Report: BlackBerry in talks with Google, Cisco, SAP

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is holding talks with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Cisco and SAP about selling all or part of itself, according to a Reuters report.

The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said that BlackBerry has asked for preliminary expressions of interest from potential strategic buyers, which also include Intel, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics, by early next week. The report said it is unclear which parties will bid, if any, but potential suitors have been drawn to BlackBerry's secure server network and patent portfolio, although doubts remain about the assets' value.

"The special committee, with the assistance of BlackBerry's independent financial and legal advisors, is conducting a robust and thorough review of strategic alternatives," a spokesman for BlackBerry said in a statement to ReutersGoogle, Intel, Cisco, LG and SAP declined to comment and Samsung was not immediately available for comment, the report said.

"In my opinion, it's unlikely any one of these companies would be seriously considering acquiring BlackBerry in its entirety (or at least keeping it intact once it did acquire)," industry analyst Jack Gold said. "Each company would have some benefit in acquiring pieces of BlackBerry, but I don't see any of them wanting to acquire and run BlackBerry as a 'whole' entity."

A consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings, BlackBerry's largest investor at around 10 percent, has signed a letter of intent to take BlackBerry private in a $9 per share deal that values BlackBerry at $4.7 billion. The companies have until Nov. 4 to conduct due diligence and in the meantime BlackBerry can shop for another buyer. 

Reports indicated last week that BlackBerry, whose share price is now hovering around $8, had also drawn interest from distressed-investing firm Cerberus Capital Management.

Gold said he is "still of the opinion that the Fairfax deal could be the best way forward for BlackBerry, as they could run them for a while and significantly increase the value of the overall company rather than the 'Fire Sale' going on right now."

Meanwhile, a proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against BlackBerry by a shareholder, alleging that CEO Thorsten Heins and CFO Brian Bidulka misled investors about the company's future, including how the company's BlackBerry 10 smartphone line would perform in the market. Blackberry 10 phones have failed to catch fire, and the company's $965 million net loss in its last quarter was primarily due to a $934 million charge it took related to unsold inventory of its Z10 smartphone.

Marvin Pearlstein, the investor, filed the suit Friday in federal court in Manhattan. "The company was not on the road to recovery and re-emerging as a lead player in the wireless communications industry," the plaintiff said in the complaint. "In reality, the BlackBerry 10 was not well received by the market and the company was forced to write down a nearly $1 billion charge related to unsold BlackBerry 10 devices and lay off approximately 4,500 employees, totaling approximately 40 percent of its total workforce," according to the complaint.

A representative for BlackBerry declined to comment, according to the Associated Press, saying the company is "reviewing the matter."

Separately, Rogers Communications has decided not to launch the BlackBerry Z30, the successor to the Z10. The carrier, one of Canada's largest and a longtime BlackBerry partner, said the decision was a routine one not related to BlackBerry's uncertain future.

"This doesn't have anything to do with whatever anyone thinks is going on with BlackBerry," Rob Bruce, Rogers' president of communications, told the Globe and Mail. "People are trying to attach some significance to this decision. There isn't any."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this AP article
- see this CNET article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate Bloomberg article
- see this AllThingsD article

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