Asks to see books, pending possible offer to buy it outright
Chinese phone giant Lenovo has finally shown its hand in the bidding for BlackBerry, signing a non-disclosure deal to examine the books of the troubled Canadian smartphone maker. If a deal comes off it could prove the best fit yet for BlackBerry, which so far has only a relatively paltry $4.7 billion offer from Fairfax Holdings owned by former director Prem Watsa. As previously predicted by GoMo News here, Lenovo was almost certain to make a move if only because it particularly values BlackBerry’s vast software and IP portfolio and has already made overtures about buying the Toronto-based firm twice this year.
Moreover, Lenovo phone sales are soaring – more than doubling in the second quarter of 2013 alone.
But news that it might be poised to buy BlackBerry outright may not go down with Canada’s regulatory authorities, especially if it involves major job losses.
They instead might prefer to salvage what jobs they can by approving a deal with, say, Google, also said to be in talks and which might be more inclined to leave BlackBerry’s secure messaging software operatons still based in Canada.
Fears,too, of Lenovo’s Chinese pedigree – stoked by concerns from Western governments that such firms might prove a security risk – could prove to be another obstacle.
Last week, Canada blocked an Egyptian telecommunication billionaire’s bid to acquire the Allstream fibre optic network owned by Manitoba Telecom Services, citing unspecified national security concerns.
On the positive side Lenovo already has a HQ in Morrisville, North Carolina, and has proved adept at riding the crest of the smartphone wave, something that BlackBerry has patently failed to do.
But the clock is ticking. BlackBerry’s board have given themselves till just 4th November to decide on whether to go with Watsa’s $9 per share proposal, even though he has yet to name who else is involved in his bidding consortium.
Last night (17th October 2013) BlackBerry’s shares rose rose 4 per cent on Nasdaq following news of Lenovo’s interest, closing at $8.20.
* Footnote: Shares in Google jumped 8 per cent in post-market trading after it reported some early success in using a new system making it easier for customers to buy advertising on mobile devices and measure its effectiveness. It left the search giant’s stock just $40 away from breaking through the $1,000 barrier for the first time.