But board has to decide on Prem Watsa’s existing offer by November 4
BlackBerry’s founders are the latest to consider making a bid for the ailing smartphone maker, securities filings have revealed. Former CEO Mike Lazaridis, who resigned last year after nearly three decades at the helm, and one-time vice president Douglas Fregin, are considering throwing their hat in the ring as the deadline for BlackBerry’s current board to make a decision fast approaches. On the table at present is a $4.7 billion offer from Fairfax Holdings, led by another former director Prem Watsa. His unnamed consortium is at present examining the books of the Canadian manufacturer as part of due diligence procedures, with just three weeks to go before the BlackBerry board has to decide whether to go ahead with his offer or consider rival bids.
But the risk for the board is if it holds back in the hope of another bidder trumping Watsa’s $9 per share proposal, it could lose everything as its cash reserves rapidly shrink and it is forced into bankruptcy.
Last week technology giants Google, Cisco and SAP were among those said to be sniffing around BlackBerry, while in the meantime private equity group Cerberus Capital Management is also said to be mounting an offer.
But Lazaridis and Fregin could be the strongest contenders yet if they do proceed.
Lazaridis led BlackBerry to its peak of $215 (£134.6) a share in 2007 before resigning last year over protracted product delays. Fregin was vice president of operations at BlackBerry until he retired in 2007.
The duo still have combined holdings of 16 per cent of the company, giving them a possible edge over Watsa whose Fairfax Holdings is said to have just a 10 per cent stake and who has yet to name the other members of his “consortium”. leading some analysts to speculate whether they exist at all.
News that Lazardis and Fregin might return has, however, brought some temporary cheer to investors. Last night on Nasdaq BlackBerry’s shares closed at $8.20 a share, more than 1 per cent higher on the day.