Report: Lenovo looking at potential BlackBerry bid

Chinese PC and smartphone maker Lenovo is actively considering purchasing all of BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), according to a Wall Street Journal article.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that Lenovo signed a non-disclosure agreement that lets it look at BlackBerry's books. BlackBerry and Lenovo declined to comment, according to the Journal. Earlier this week both Bloomberg and AllThingsD reported that, according to unnamed sources, Cerberus Capital Management, which specializes in distressed assets, signed a similar agreement with the struggling smartphone maker.

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said in August he thought organic growth was enough to keep the momentum going in the company's smartphone business, but he did not rule out acquisitions. Lenovo was the No. 8 handset maker in the world in the second quarter, according to ABI Research.

"I believe that we can still grow fast organically," Yang told the Journal in August. "But if we see an opportunity for an acquisition that is consistent with our strategy, we would like to consider it."

Reuters reported that, according to an unnamed source, any Lenovo bid for BlackBerry would likely face tough regulatory scrutiny in both Ottawa and Washington. The report said that, according to many security experts, if BlackBerry is broken up, the company's secure server network is likely to be sold to a North American entity because of national security concerns.

Under the Investment Canada Act, the Canadian government can veto any foreign takeover of a Canadian asset or company if it deems such a deal would not bring a "net benefit" to the country, or if it thinks national security might be threatened.

BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin also are considering a bid for BlackBerry, according to a regulatory filing made public last week. 

The struggling smartphone maker is currently working with a consortium led by its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, to take BlackBerry private in a $4.7 billion deal. But the firm can look for other suitors until Nov. 4.

Earlier this week BlackBerry issued an open letter to customers and partners around the world, assuring them that the company is "here to stay."

"These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don't underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges," the company wrote in the letter. "We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article

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