Cerberus looks into buying BlackBerry

Oct. 2, 2013 at 4:38 PM

WATERLOO, Ontario, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Investment firm Cerberus Capital Management has requested access to the books at Canadian smartphone pioneer BlackBerry, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

Cerberus, which is know for investing in distressed companies, is seeking to sign a confidentiality agreement that would allow it to explore the company's books with an eye toward making an offer to buy BlackBerry, which announced in September that it had reached a tentative deal to sell itself to its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.

The Journal reported Wednesday that the price of $9 per share offered by Fairfax may not hold, as investors have driven the price lower since the tentative deal was disclosed.

In midday trading Wednesday, BlackBerry shares were priced at $7.60 per share, off 15 percent from the time the Fairfax deal was announced, the Journal said.

The Fairfax deal could be derailed and the exploration by Cerberus is no guarantee it will make an offer or end up buying the smartphone pioneer that has lost significant market share to Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics in recent years.

A spokesman for BlackBerry declined to comment on the Cerberus inquiry.

"We do not intend to disclose further developments with the respect to the process until we approve a specific transaction or otherwise conclude the review of strategic alternatives," the spokesman said.

In a separate development, Mike Lazaridis, a co-founder of the company, has given consideration to buying the struggling company and has discussed possible deals with Fairfax, a company he might join, the Journal reported.

Lazaridis owns 5.7 percent of BlackBerry. Otherwise, he is no longer connected to the company, the Journal said.

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