Watsa: New owner
Sept. 23 (Agencies): BlackBerry said on Monday that it had reached an agreement to sell the company for $9 a share to a group led by Fairfax Financial Holdings.
The proposed deal values the faltering smartphone maker at about $4.7 billion.
“We believe this transaction will open an exciting 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,” Fairfax’s chief executive Prem Watsa said in a statement.
Watsa stepped down from BlackBerry’s board last month to avoid criticism over a potential conflict of interest as he sought to find a future path for the beleaguered company. Fairfax is its largest shareholder, with a 10 per cent stake.
Watsa, born in Hyderabad and an IIT graduate, is known as the “Canadian Warren Buffett”.
Trading of the company’s stock was halted ahead of the news.
BlackBerry shares had plunged after the company announced on Friday a loss of nearly $1 billion and layoffs of 4,500 workers.
BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, was once the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other consumers before Apple’s iPhone debuted in 2007.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry has paused the global rollout of instant messaging service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) on rival Android and iPhones, blaming the delay on issues caused by an unreleased version.
However, the Canada-based firm, which has not specified the time when the app will be available, said customers who have downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to use it.
“We know you’re waiting. Pausing #BBM4All rollout to fix issues caused by unreleased BBM for Android app,” BlackBerry said on social networking site Twitter.
“We will provide you an update on the timing as soon as we can. Teams are working non-stop,” it added.
Blackberry had earlier announced that it will provide its popular chat application BBM on Android operation system from September 21 and for iPhone users from September 22.
BBM has more than 60 million monthly active customers on BlackBerry alone, and majority use BBM an average of 90 minutes per day.