Watsa’s Fairfax Doubles its Stake in RIM

Watsa’s Fairfax Doubles its Stake in RIM
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Watsa's Fairfax Doubles its Stake in RIM

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (TSE:FFH) has put on a display of solidarity with the clouded BlackBerry producer, Research In Motion Limited (TSE:RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM), Reuters reports. Prem Watsa, CEO of Fairfax, has upped his company’s stake in RIM (TSE:RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM) to double the amount of their original investment. Watsa, who is the so-called Warren Buffet of the North, has shown faith in the beleaguered cellphone manufacturer, when other investors have been scurrying in all directions to take cover from an expected bankruptcy .

This rare show of support has made Farifax the owner of 51.9 million ($349.2 million) of RIM’s shares, making Fairfax’s total stake in RIM equal to 10% of the company, and beating out Lazaridis share in RIM that equaled 5.66 percent. Watsa has previously remarked that it will take at least three to five years for the BlackBerry manufacturer to make any recovery from its present lows. The increase in share holdings is an attempt to average down the per share cost that Fairfax pays on its initial investement.

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“We have taken the recent opportunity to average down our per share cost, and we believe that we are now the single largest shareholder of RIM at just under 10 percent,” Fairfax spokesman Paul Rivett said in an email.

“We strongly believe that Thorsten Heins [CEO of RIM] is singularly focused on the success of RIM and its BB10, and we firmly support him and the entire BlackBerry team working tirelessly to bring this exciting new platform to market.”

Earlier this month, shareholders were left fuming, when RIM decided to stick to its present ensemble of board directors. The company lost $518 million in this quarter, and revenues fell 33 percent, to $2.8 million, from the previous year. The shipments of BlackBerry also reduced by 44 percent. Moreover in a survey conducted by Baird Equity Research, it was noted that developers have lost interest in RIM’s BlackBerry products, because of increasing Android popularity.

RIM and Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), the two smartphone giants of the past, have suffered enormous losses in the wake of  the iOS and Android invasion by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). The pioneer of mobile email, that once traded at the kingly price of $150 has decreased 95%, and does not even come close to its trading highs of 2008. The stock has fallen 70 percent in this year alone, and is now trading at a meager $6.80. RIM is banking on the release of the BlackBerry 10 platform, due next year, to mark a sort of comeback in the smartphone industry.


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