Emerging Technology

BlackBerry officially up for sale: Committee formed to look at options as director quits

Andrew Sadauskas /

BlackBerry has officially announced the creation of a special five-member board to examine sale options on the same day its largest shareholder quit the board of directors.

In a statement, the Canadian smartphone giant has announced the special board will comprise of chief executive Thorsten Heins, Barbara Stymiest, Richard Lynch and Bert Nordberg, with Timothy Dattels serving as its chair.

The committee has also appointed JP Morgan Securities as a financial advisor, with law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Torys serving as legal advisors to the committee.

“During the past year, management and the Board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders,” Dattels said.

“Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”

In a statement, chief executive Thorsten Heins sought to reassure consumers the company would continue to support key products, such as the Blackberry Z10 and Q10 smartphones, during the process.

“As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones,” Heins said.

News of the formation of the new committee came on a dramatic day at the company, following news the company’s largest shareholder, Prem Watsa, had resigned from the board of directors.

Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings, which is not related to the Australian media company, is the largest individual shareholder in the company, owning a 9.9% stake in the smartphone giant.

The news comes less than a day after SmartCompany reported mounting speculation of a possible management buyout of the firm, with sources citing private equity firm Silver Lake Capital as a potential partner in any takeover.

In turn Silver Lake Capital recently joined Michael Dell and Microsoft in a bid to take struggling PC giant Dell private.

The news also follows a series of high-profile executives quitting the company in recent weeks, along with 250 job cuts.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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