BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has said that it is open to the idea of breaking up the company, now that Prem Watsa’s $4.7 billion buyout offer looks like it might not actually materialize, reports Hugo Miller and Jeffrey McCracken for Bloomberg.
BlackBerry share buyout by Watsa
Watsa, who has served on the BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) board and maintained that the company is undervalued, made a $9 per share buyout offer through his company Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd (TSE:FFH) (OTCMKTS:FRFHF), but there has been some doubt from the beginning about whether he would manage to get the money together.
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Now it seems that tech firms like SAG, Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO), and Samsung Electronics have been approached by BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) to talk about what they might be interested in buying. Even if the company’s brand is beyond saving in the consumer market, it still has a strong enterprise business and lots of valuable patents.
“If you break up the company, you’re going to get more than the company is worth right now,” said Sachin Shah, a strategist at Albert Fried & Co. “breaking it up sounds more appetizing for all involved.”
Watsa and BlackBerry deal
BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has a little more than three weeks to consider other offers while Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd (TSE:FFH) (OTCMKTS:FRFHF) does its due diligence, brings in financial partners, and secures loans. Watsa has not mentioned any other partners and has not announced specifically how he will finance the deal, leading some to think he is having trouble putting the deal together.
Reaching out to companies that are only interested in specific parts of the business now both makes the Watsa deal more likely to go through and gives a fall-back plan. No matter how optimistic he is in public, part of Watsa’s rationale must be that he can break up the company and sell it off to limit his losses if that ever becomes necessary. Demonstrating that a lot of interest exists would give any potential partners confidence that they have a realistic exit strategy.
But if BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s stock price is any indication, Watsa will have to find something else to invest in. At just over $8 per share, investing in BlackBerry now would be a quick, easy profit if Fairfax buys the company. That no one seems particularly interested in making that bet tells you the consensus is that it won’t happen.