Chen Mentions China, BlackBerry Ltd Jumps

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BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) jumped 6% yesterday to close at $11.09, the highest price since the middle of July, after CEO John Chen said that he was talking to major Chinese companies about possible deals to get involved in the Chinese market. But his comments in an interview with Bloomberg TV make it sound like the investor enthusiasm could be a bit premature.

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“I’m here this time to look at what opportunities there might be, we have not really focused on this market. We should, it’s a huge market, but it’s a very highly competitive market too. We’ve got to find a good angle to come into the country,” said Chen.

China talks ‘not really framed’

While Chen didn’t close the door on an eventual big return to the consumer space, he made it clear in the interview that the company’s focus is on the enterprise business where BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) is still a major player. And if Chen is going to make a big push into the Chinese market, he’ll be playing to the company’s strengths there as well.


“I know security is important to this market, I know encryption is important to this market, I know privacy, probably will get more important in this market, and that’s what we do best,” said Chen.

It’s still not at all clear what a deal would actually look like. Chen made some comments about possible licensing or distribution deals, which could mean almost anything, and described the talks he’s had so far as ‘not really framed’. He said that he’s talking to everybody, but also dismissed Xiaomi with an offhand comment that they’re doing a great job, but focusing on the low end.

BlackBerry bulls have faith in Chen

Maybe it’s strange for such vague comments about an uncertain, future event to push the stock price up, but the movement is probably best understood as a vote of confidence for Chen himself. As long as BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) continues to lose money, critics will continue to ask if Chen is thinking about arranging a sale like he did for SyBase in the 1990s (he has repeatedly said that he has no intention of doing so), but his focus on the best parts of the business and refusal to get caught up in trying to run after Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the consumer space shows that he knows where he’s headed, even if he doesn’t want to give us too many details.

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