BlackBerry Ltd. reached a tentative agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. to be acquired for $4.7 billion or $9 a share in cash. The consortium is still seeking financing for the offer to purchase the company, which was forced to seek buyout offers this year after its new BlackBerry 10 operating system failed to fuel a comeback.
Even with this deal on the table, CEO Thorsten Heins and a special board committee will still be able to seek out alternative proposals until November. BlackBerry will owe a breakup fee of 30 cents a share, or about $157 million, if it chooses an alternate transaction; if BlakcBerry and Fairfax sign a definitive agreement, the fee will rise to 50 cents a share.
“This transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees,” Fairfax CEO Prem Watsa said in the statement. “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.”
This news comes after the Waterloo, Ontario-based company announced job cuts and exited the consumer market last week and after the rollout of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) flopped due to unexpected issues. The company expects its worst quarterly sales forecast in six years.
So where does this leave BBM? Well, unfortunately, it’s impossible to say at this point. It’s very possible that BBM will live on as its own spun-off company, though that was before this acquisition chose to take the entire company private. BBM’s release is still up in the air for Android and iPhone, and it’s very possible that it may not actually happen.
Of course, we are just speculating here. The best BBM fans can do is cross their fingers at this point. We’ll post an article once we know for sure regarding BBM.