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BlackBerry co-founder cuts stake in company, won't try for takeover

updated 01:30 am EST, Thu December 26, 2013

Lazaridis will not bid for BlackBerry

BlackBerry co-founder Michael Lazaridis has reduced his stake in the troubled smartphone maker and no longer intends to make a bid to purchase the company. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Lazaridis disclosed in a regulatory filing that his combined stake with another co-founder is now less than five percent, down from eight percent in October of this year. As of Tuesday, Lazaridis's stake in the company sits at about 4.99 percent.

Lazaridis and fellow founder Doug Fregin had been considering a joint bid to take over the smartphone maker, which has struggled to retain relevancy in the face of stiff competition from Apple and manufacturers producing Android-powered devices. Their aborted bid came on the heels of another offer from the company's largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, to take the company private with a $4.7 billion buyout offer.

Fairfax, though, was reportedly unable to secure funding for its bid, as financiers were reluctant to pump money into the company. BlackBerry has seen successive quarters of considerable losses as its once-popular smartphones have failed to garner consumer attention. Most recently, the company reported a massive $4.4 billion loss for the third quarter, including a $2.7 billion charge against unsold devices. That loss came on the heals of a $965 million loss for the preceding quarter.

Lazaridis and Fregin filed papers in October revealing that they were considering a takeover bid, with Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners advising the pair. The two were working separately from any other parties, but Lenovo, SAP, Samsung, and Google were also said to have considered bids for part or all of the company. Apple, too, was said to have been interested in BlackBerry's considerable patent portfolio, which some note may be worth more than the company on the whole.

Lazaridis started BlackBerry, née Research In Motion, in 1984 in a Canadian strip mall with Fregin. His offer to buy the company could well have run into issues, had he pursued it, as the company's board has apparently already decided on a way forward.

In November, BlackBerry ousted then-CEO Thorsten Heins, who had been in the position for little more than a year and a half. The company turned to its investors to secure $1 billion in additional funding, and it will continue to trim its operations in order to find a sustainable business scale. This has meant selling off some manufacturing capabilities, and BlackBerry is looking at perhaps contracting other manufacturers to produce its phones. The board made it clear, though, that they do not intend for the company to go on sale either in part or on the whole.

Filling Heins's former spot is John Chen, former CEO of Sybase, Inc. Chen has previously helmed troubled technology companies and turned them around, and he has expressed confidence that he can do the same with BlackBerry.

By Electronista Staff
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