Canadian mobile communications giant Blackberry is forming a special committee to “explore strategic alternatives.”
The five-person unit headed up by Timothy Dattels and including Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins will examine potential partnerships or alliances with other companies, possible joint ventures or even a sale of the company. The company is doing so to “accelerate Blackberry 10 deployment.”
The news isn’t entirely surprising, especially after sources close to Reuters claimed on Friday that the company was considering going private. At the time, Reuters opined “Even if it tried, BlackBerry could find it hard to come up with a buyer and the funding to go private. With the company still posting losses and bleeding subscribers, private equity firms and other buyers may not want to step up.”
The company’s intentions for a sale come during could be called an unreceptive market. Perhaps anticipating this response, the company said there was “no assurance that this exploration process will result in any transaction.”
Nevertheless Dattels indicated that now is the time for action. “During the past year, management and the board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders,” said Dattels. “Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”
Heins added positive-sounding official speak, explaining that “We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition.”
Of interesting note was the resignation of Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial. He said he resigned due to potential conflicts that may arise during the process. Fairfax Financial is the largest BlackBerry shareholder. Several pundits are suggesting that Fairfax may likely be involved in a private sale.
Selling the company would protect both Heins and the company from prolonged investor scrutiny, especially after the recent quarterly performances the company has shown. Early last month a disappointing report showed stocks had plunged 27%, while analysts “tore apart” the company.
One Needham analyst claimed that neither the Q10 or Z10 possesses a "wow factor" and and that "BlackBerrys are no match for iPhones and Androids." Despite the onslaught of negative commentary, Heins defended his company at the time. “We will be increasing our investments to support the roll out of new products and services, and to demonstrate that BlackBerry has established itself as a leading and vibrant player in next generation mobile computing solutions for both consumer and enterprise customers," he said.