- POSTED: 03 Oct 2013 04:43
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The private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has expressed interest in a bid for troubled Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
NEW YORK: The private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has expressed interest in a bid for troubled Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The source indicated that the big investment group was preparing to sign a confidentiality agreement to examine BlackBerry's finances for a possible counter-offer to a $4.7 billion buyout plan agreed last month.
BlackBerry said on September 23 it agreed to the buyout, which translates to $9 a share, led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited but would also consider other offers.
Fairfax, a Canadian firm headed by billionaire Prem Watsa, is already BlackBerry's largest shareholder with approximately 10 percent of its shares.
Watsa resigned from BlackBerry's board in August when it announced a search for a suitor.
Some analysts have said they do not believe the Fairfax buyout will take place, and that it was done to elicit other offers.
BlackBerry shares have been trading below the Fairfax offer of $9, and on Wednesday edged up slightly to close at $7.96.
New York-based Cerberus, which specializes in distressed companies, manages some $20 billion in assets, according to its website. It was a lead investor in Chrysler before the automaker's collapse in the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
While BlackBerry helped create a culture of mobile users glued to smartphones, many have since moved to iPhones or devices using Google's Android software.
According to International Data Corporation, BlackBerry's global market share had slipped to 3.7 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since tracking began.
Android accounts for nearly 80 percent.
A survey by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said BlackBerry captured just 2.4 percent of sales across the big five European markets and 1.8 percent in the United States in the three months ending in August.
The company, formerly known as Research In Motion, unveiled a new corporate name and a new platform in January as it sought to regain momentum, but its most recent numbers suggest this has been a spectacular failure.
Last month, the company announced it was laying off 4,500 staff - or one-third of its global workforce - after a dismal launch of new smartphone models earlier this year.
BlackBerry lost $965 million in the past quarter as sales plummeted.