BlackBerry hits key deadline today

A major deadline in the battle for BlackBerry’s future is set for today, and will likely reveal how many outsiders want — or can afford to — get their hands on the Canadian smartphone maker.

A major deadline in the battle for BlackBerry’s future is set for today, and will likely reveal how many outsiders want — or can afford to — get their hands on the Canadian smartphone maker.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company has been trying to drum up interest in its assets for weeks, but only a few serious investors are expected to emerge, with the most likely candidates including both the founders of the company and its biggest stakeholder.

“We are finally going to know who will, or who won’t, be bidding on this company,” said Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst.

“It’s really a fish-or-cut-bait day.”

After a month and a half of near silence, it appears that any possible bidding war for BlackBerry’s businesses, which include smartphone hardware, enterprise assets and a patent portfolio, will only involve a few interested parties.

And some of the most vocal investors may be shut out of the process, according to one report.

Bloomberg said that Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFX) has yet to secure all of the financing it needs to make its $4.7-billion bid official. While some lenders have committed to the Fairfax plan, not enough have agreed to help finance the offer, which could make it impossible for Fairfax to move ahead.

In September, Fairfax jumpstarted the pursuit of BlacksBerry’s assets with a highly conditional letter of intent that set the bar for a starting bid price at $9 per share, with a consortium of other investors that it hasn’t named. The announcement opened the field so that the smartphone maker could shop around for other potential buyers.

Fairfax, which owns about 10 per cent of BlackBerry common shares, constructed the agreement so that it could step away if it deems the transaction unattractive or financially benefit from a takeover by any other party.

Meanwhile the founders of BlackBerry, Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, have been trying to pound out a separate bid that would ensure the company stays in one piece.

Their offer would be made through a partnership with New York investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP and cellphone chip maker Qualcomm Inc., according to a source familiar with the process.

Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo has also suggested it could enter the process with its own bid, which could trigger national security concerns from the federal government, which would review any foreign takeover offer.

While media reports have said Lenovo chief executive Yang Yuanqing expressed interest in expanding into the mobile phone business, the technology company would find BlackBerry’s patents and encryption technology most beneficial to its business.

BlackBerry has run into numerous challenges over its encryption technology. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia pushed to ban some of the device’s services because governments can’t monitor content as it passes through the system.

Their concerns centre around national security, since traffic over BlackBerry’s instant message service is extremely difficult to intercept and monitor.

Last month, BlackBerry executives scoured the market for other interested buyers, which a Wall Street Journal report said included a recent trip to the Facebook offices in California to court the social media company.

While some analysts have questioned how much steam is left in BlackBerry, the company still has a slate of assets that are considered valuable, including its massive patent portfolio. BlackBerry owns about 10,000 patents that cover advanced wireless technology, security, enterprise mobility and software.

Some of those prized patents are part of Rockstar, a group of investors that includes Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony. Together they spent $4.5 billion to buy them from Nortel during its bankruptcy auction.

Last week, those patents were the centre of infringement lawsuits filed by Rockstar against a slate of other technology companies, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, HTC Corp, Huawei and Google.

“People are saying BlackBerry’s patents haven’t been tested, haven’t been validated … and they’re worthless,” said Kris Thompson, an analyst at National Bank.

“I don’t know if that’s the case,” he added, pointing to the lawsuit.

While attention remains on the pursuit of BlackBerry, for Canadians weary of purchasing another device from the smartphone maker shouldn’t feel discouraged, said Levy.

“If BlackBerry technology continues to meet your needs, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy it out of fear of the company’s future,” he said.

The smartphones will likely to receive new software updates for quite some time, regardless of the auction’s outcome, and the phone and browsing features will continue to work, Levy said.

“Your phone won’t go dark,” he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read