Forgive us for taking a break in news directly related to Android, but we thought this bit of breaking news was damned worth it. Reports are swirling in that Blackberry has agreed in a letter of intent to sell their company to Fairfax Financial for $4.7 billion (a company that already has a pretty large stake in Blackberry). Through the sale, shareholders will receive an extra $9 per share, and the company will be taken off the public market for good.
Fairfax Financial’s chairman and CEO Prem Watsa had this to share in regards to the deal:
We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. 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.
To be clear, Blackberry hasn’t officially accepted (and subsequently closed) the deal yet. That could be happening as early as November 4th following a round of voting, approvals and so forth. As such, Blackberry can still entertain other offers, though there doesn’t appear to be many other biters looking for a piece of the pie.
It’s a tough time for Blackberry, with the company having to lay off 4,500 employees following a poor Q2 2013. Sales, or the lack thereof, of the Blackberry Q10 and Z10 were to blame, with the two smartphones positioned as the two captains set to right the ship.
Blackberry has long been rumored to be transitioning into a company that focuses on providing software services for the masses, with the first move poised to be Blackberry Messenger for Android and iOS. That particular release was supposed to take place this weekend, but went horribly wrong after it leaked ahead of schedule.
The result of the leak was a massive server failure, making many Blackberry services difficult to access even for those who actually own Blackberry devices. Blackberry has yet to release any updated details in regards to another attempt to launch the messaging service, though the few people who were excited for it might have already been turned off by this unfortunate episode.
Some are hoping Blackberry will eventually ditch their homegrown mobile operating system and become a third-party Android OEM, though the chances of that happening are seem quite slim at this point. If someone like Lenovo or Huawei were to buy them things would probably feel different, but it doesn’t look like the train will cross that particular track anytime soon.
Fairfax isn’t particularly well-known for tech investments, with the company making the bulk of its bank on insurance endeavors. That has us wondering about the future of Blackberry as we know it. The aforementioned statement by Watsa doesn’t make it sound like they’ll be auctioning off separate pieces of the Blackberry business to highest bidders, but that very well could happen.
Of particular interest will be Blackberry’s hardware business, and all of the juicy patents they have under their control. It will be some time before we see what this new long-term strategy turns out to be, but the microscope is focused squarely on their backs.