Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry has had a rough few years, as the company has lost ground to Apple, Google, and other competitors. A few days ago the company announced a $1 billion loss and plans to eliminate 4500 jobs. Last month BlackBerry unveiled that it was open to a sale of the business.
And today it looks like the company found a buyer. Fairfax Financial is leading a group that could acquire outstanding shares of BlackBerry in a deal worth about $4.7 billion with the goal of taking the company private.
Blackberry revealed a letter of intent agreement with Fairfax Financial. In other words, this isn’t a done deal yet. But Fairfax probably has some idea what they’re in for — the group already owns about 10 percent of the shares of BlackBerry.
Going private could give BlackBerry a bit of flexibility to try to turn the company around without the need to answer directly to shareholders. Theoretically that could allow the company to think long-term rather than short, or take more risks with its hardware or software.
The last few Blackberry phones have been major departures from the company’s earlier handsets thanks to an emphasis on touchscreens over keyboards, and high-end specs. The latest versions of the Blackberry Operating system also add support for running Android apps as well as some BlackBerry-only features including a unified inbox.
Blackberry also recently introduced BlackBerry Messenger software for Android and iOS, which could be the first sign of the company transitioning from an organization that only offers bundled hardware and software solutions to one that offers cross-platform software solutions.