BlackBerry Will Sell Itself for $4.7 Billion

In the end, the brand-new BlackBerry 10 operating system wasn’t enough to reverse the company’s slide.

A consortium led by financial-holding company Fairfax Financial has agreed to acquire BlackBerry for $4.7 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Fairfax Financial will acquire every BlackBerry stock-share it doesn’t already own (a report by The Wall Street Journal indicated that it already holds 10 percent of the company). Further details are pending, including future management structure and whether BlackBerry will continue with its stated intent to lay off thousands of employees over the next few months.

“The Special Committee is seeking the best available outcome for the Company’s constituents, including for shareholders,” Barbara Stymiest, chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors, wrote in a statement. “Importantly, the go-shop process provides an opportunity to determine if there are alternatives superior to the present proposal from the Fairfax consortium.”

A special committee formed by BlackBerry’s Board of Directors had spent the past few weeks looking for a potential acquirer. BlackBerry has seen its market-share crumble as businesses and consumers embrace rivals such as Apple’s iPhone and Google Android devices.

“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees,” Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax, wrote in a statement. “We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”

Late last week, BlackBerry announced plans to largely abandon the consumer market in favor of focusing on its core enterprise audience, but analysts expressed doubts over whether that would be enough to halt the company’s slide. BlackBerry’s most recent set of devices, loaded with next-generation BlackBerry 10, had failed to gain much traction among smartphone users. BlackBerry also indicated that it would slash roughly 40 percent of its workforce.


Image: BlackBerry