BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY): Prem Watsa Buys 129,000 Shares

BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY): Prem Watsa Buys 129,000 Shares
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BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s largest shareholder and director Prem Watsa purchased 129,000 shares of the struggling smartphone maker on Christmas Eve. Mr. Watsa acquired those shares at $7.71 a share, reports Ted Dixon of The Globe and Mail. The move indicates that Prem Watsa is still bullish on BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB). A few months ago, he had proposed to buy the entire company at $9 per share, before the deal fell apart. Watsa made his latest purchase indirectly through an Ontario-based company.

Watsa shows faith in BlackBerry CEO

After the acquisition deal failed, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors led by Fairfax Holdings. Despite the company’s heavy losses in the third quarter, investors continue to show faith in the company’s new chief executive John Chen. Chen replaced Thorsten Heins on November 4.

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In an attempt to revive BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB), Mr. Chen recently joined hands with Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. (TPE:2354) to manufacture smartphones. The Taiwanese smartphone vendor will design, manufacture and supply devices for BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB). The first smartphone, a low-cost device code named Jakarta, will be launched in April 2014, in Indonesia. It will reduce manufacturing costs and allow BlackBerry to focus on its core software and services business. John Chen aims to make BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) a profitable company by the end of 2016.

BlackBerry co-founder reducing holdings

However, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) co-founder Mike Lazaridis recently reduced his stake in the company. In a filing last week, Lazaridis said that he sold 3.5 million shares of the company for about $26.5 million. He still owns 4.99% stake in the company. Ironically, Lazaridis was also involved in a takeover bid to acquire BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) when its turnaround efforts under Thorsten Heins failed. Lazaridis’ bearish and Watsa’s conflicting bullish view on BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) puts investors in a quandry.

Evercore Partners analyst Mark Mckechnie said in a research note that Lazaridis should have sold the shares three years ago when BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) shares were trading above $70. If he held on the stock for so long, and he knows that the company’s assets have some value, he should have waited to see what the new management is going to do. Perhaps that’s what Prem Watsa is doing.

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) shares jumped 3.40% to close at $7.30 on Friday.

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