The idea that BlackBerry isn’t for sale clearly cannot be grasped by some. Current CEO, John Chen, has reiterated that no buyouts are on the table saying, “I don’t have any offers on my desk… If people would like to talk, I mean, talk is not an offer.”
Reuters once again released a botched “exclusive” where a source claimed Samsung approached BlackBerry for a buyout.
This rumor is hardly new. In fact, it’s really, really getting old. This time around, the rumor was that Samsung had offered BlackBerry USD $7.5 billion. However, BlackBerry was quick to issue a public statement where they refuted the report.
Since the decline of BlackBerry, rumors of a buyout have been swirling. And it can be big business for anyone who shorts the stock. BlackBerry initially rose 30 percent on the latest false rumor of Samsung’s offer. This is a recurring trend when these sort of rumors are pushed by mainstream media reports.
Nevertheless, this sparked us to look back into history and find out everyone who have allegedly wanted to “buy” BlackBerry:
Co-founder and engineering genius behind BlackBerry had allegedly wanted to take control of the company. In 2013, Lazaridis apparently raised his stake in the company from 5.7 percent to 8 percent.
Lazaridis and co-founder Douglas Fregin had supposedly entered into an agreement to explore the possibility of a joint bid.
Reports said that Lazaridis had talked to P-E firms Blackstone and Carlyle about a possible BlackBerry bid.
Former Apple CEO John Sculley
2013 was filled with buyout rumors. Apple’s former CEO had allegedly been interested in buying BlackBerry. “I’ve been a long-time BlackBerry fan and user,” admitted Sculley.
“The only thing I would say is, I think there’s a lot of future value in BlackBerry,” Sculley said, “but without experienced people who have run this type of business, and without a strategic plan, it would be really challenging … Whoever buys it would have to have a strategic plan that was credible and could succeed, and they would want to have an experienced team that would be able to implement that plan.”
Cerberus and Qualcomm
In connection with the rumor of the BlackBerry co-founders seeking a bid to buyout the company, two others had allegedly wanted to join.
Cerberus Capital Management LP was said to be near an agreement to jointly pursue a bid for BlackBerry Ltd. Qualcomm Inc., a maker of cellphone chips, was also claimed to be in talks to join the potential Cerberus group, according to people (who obviously weren’t) familiar with the matter.
“RIM has a lot to offer Ford with QNX, which as shown off at CES in a Porsche. Ford a pioneer in bringing the mobile office into the car doesn’t want to get left behind. With purchasing RIM they get QNX, the home grown solution that they get to profit from by licensing it to other manufacturers,” said deRusett.
Funny enough, Ford eventually dropped Microsoft in place for BlackBerry’s QNX in their new Ford Sync 3 infotainment system.
After HTC released the “Facebook phone” rumors began about Facebook wanting to build their own proprietary smartphone.
Mobile marketing expert and previously a general manager at Nokia, Paul Amsellem, claimed Facebook needed to enter the hardware business, and it would do so by taking over BlackBerry.
“Facebook is under pressure from investors and needs a long term project,” Amsellem said. “Facebook needs to do something different so that it can move away from having to deal with Apple and Google’s rules with regard to application development.”
Say what you will about reality TV star Kim Kardashian, but she’s a huge BlackBerry fan. In an interview with Re/code, Mrs. Kardashian-West admitted she loves BlackBerry.
“I have anxiety that I will run out, and that BlackBerry will go extinct… I’m on a mission to make that not happen,” said Kim.
Apparently, she has gone on eBay to buy a few Bold 9900s to ensure she has a backup should she ever break one.
After this, mainstream media began “what if” reports on Kim making a bid for BlackBerry after she said she’d buy it because, “it’s my heart and soul. I’ll never get rid of it.”
Like Samsung, the Chinese-based Lenovo was rumored multiple times to make a bid to purchase BlackBerry. In the latest rumor people “familiar with the matter” claimed that Lenovo would make an offer of USD $15 per share, and expectations for it to close at USD $18 per share.
Interestingly, BlackBerry CEO John Chen did eventually meet with Lenovo CEO to discuss possible partnership to better position BlackBerry in China. Though, not for a buyout.
Fairfax Financial and Prem Watsa
Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial owned nearly 10 percent of BlackBerry shares. Watsa had allegedly sought to build a fund with other investors to take control of BlackBerry.
Eventually, Fairfax Financial announced they were easing off a USD $9 per share bid after determining it was a mistake to garner BlackBerry with a high-yield debt under a planned buyout.
“We looked at it and said, ‘Hey, a high-debt situation was not appropriate,’” said Prem Watsa in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “We wanted to take the ‘For Sale’ sign down, get John Chen as executive chairman as soon as we could and finance it for the long-term,” Mr. Watsa said. “That’s effectively what we’ve done.”
Cisco, Google, and SAP
In yet another Reuters “exclusive” it was claimed BlackBerry was allegedly in talks with Cisco Systems, Google Inc and SAP about selling them all or parts of itself.
Apparently, the main interests these companies would be bidding on are BlackBerry’s NOC and patent portfolio, which has an estimated valuation of USD $10 billion.
When the buyout rumors were heating up, many speculated possible suitors would be Asian mobile tech companies, like Huawei.
However, Chinese-based Huawei’s Senior vice president and board member Chen Lifang said they were not interested in BlackBerry.
“We haven’t considered (an acquisition),” she told reporters. “We want to rely on ourselves.”
Before BlackBerry 10 was even officially released, it was rumored that HTC may want to license BlackBerry 10 or more.
When asked about a deal with BlackBerry, director of product management for EMEA at HTC, Graham Wheeler, stated:
“I don’t have any knowledge but that is not to say we are not looking at it. But from my point of view we are not saying we are closed to a new operating system. We will review each one to make sure it’s the best for our customers.”
Nothing as yet from this rumor has obviously come to fruition.
Windows Phone maker Microsoft has also had the pleasure of being a rumored possible interested party to purchase BlackBerry.
After AOL’s sale of 800 patents to Microsoft, it raised speculation Microsoft would be interested in BlackBerry’s patent portfolio.
Rumor had it that Microsoft was prepared to make a USD $3.5 billion investment.
Since 2012, it has incessantly been rumored that Samsung have been trying to buy BlackBerry. The latest rumor from Reuters claimed Samsung made an offer for a takeover valued at around USD $7.5 billion.
Quickly after the story broke, BlackBerry issued a press release where they said, “BlackBerry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry.”
Before that, BGC Partners firm claimed Samsung sought to invest USD $1.5 billion for the ability to license the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
Their report claimed Samsung had become fearful of the long term use of Android with Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. “Obviously new [BlackBerry] management has been sitting down and saying, Maybe we could extend the [BlackBerry] platform and bring something new into the ecosystem,” said Collin Gillis with BGC Partners.
However, BlackBerry and Samsung did enter into an agreement to provide a highly secure mobility solution for Android through the use of BES 12 with Samsung’s Knox.
With all of these alleged interested purchasers, it would appear BlackBerry is one of the most sought after companies.
Thankfully, BlackBerry appears to be keeping their focus and remaining an independent company. Under John Chen’s leadership, “BlackBerry has survived.”