BlackBerry shares surge as potential bidder holds talks with Canadian pension funds

Shares in embattled smartphone maker BlackBerry have surged over 6% amid reports the company’s largest shareholder is initiating talks with major Canadian pension funds in order to finance a takeover bid.

Last month, SmartCompany reported investment guru Prem Watsa, nicknamed ‘Canada’s Warren Buffett’, had stepped down from the board as the company formed a five-member panel to evaluate any takeover bid.

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 on the takeover process.

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.

According to Reuters, a source with direct knowledge of the situation has revealed the investor is holding preliminary talks with a major investment fund.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan have been named as likely potential investors.

“There have been various calls saying, ‘if we came up with some kind of a proposal would you look at it?’,” the source told Reuters.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s chief executive officer, Mark Wiseman, has previously said he will consider investing in any bids to take the company private.

“It’s safe to say that any large deal in Canada or elsewhere is something that we would make sure we took a hard look at. You could say that about [this] asset.”

The latest news comes a week after BlackBerry director Bert Nordberg suggested the embattled smartphone maker might be able to survive as a niche player, but has confirmed there are “subsets within the company that it can get rid of”.

The QNX operating system, BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry Messenger have long been identified as assets that could potentially be sold separately to the company’s handset deal.


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