BlackBerry in talks with Samsung and others as Fairfax deal weakens

October 10, 2013
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BlackBerry’s offer from shareholder Fairfax Financial may be under some stress. People with knowledge of the situation tell Bloomberg that Fairfax is having trouble lining up financial backing for the $4.7 billion deal, which could mean BlackBerry gets split up before being sold off.

 As a result, BlackBerry advisors (presumably a group the board of directors recently assembled) have approached companies like Cisco and Samsung. Having already dismissed a bid for BlackBerry as a whole, Samsung is reportedly interested in a part -- or parts -- of BlackBerry.

Which segments of BlackBerry are attractive to Samsung isn’t clear, but analyst Sachin Shah of Albert Fried and Co. thinks splitting BlackBerry up is smart. “If you break up the company, you’re going to get more than the company is worth right now” said Shah, adding that segmenting BlackBerry would be good, whether the original deal with Fairfax goes through or not.

It’s worth noting that BlackBerry would have to pay Fairfax $0.30/share, or roughly $150 million, if they accepted a competing offer before Fairfax’s November 4th deadline to acquire financial backing. If BlackBerry accepts another offer after that deadline, the price raises to $0.50/share.

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Even if the Fairfax deal happens, BlackBerry could still be sold off piece by piece. The deal includes the $2.8 billion cash BlackBerry has, which means the total investment is really about $2 billion. If the parts of BlackBerry are worth more separately than as a whole, Fairfax may have a short-term, high yield winner on their hand -- if they can get a deal done.

If Fairfax can’t get it done, splitting BlackBerry up could cause a tough bidding war for the best segments. With BBM still widely desired and BlackBerry’s enterprise solutions still enticing, they also have a unique stock portfolio. As many tech companies continue their talks with BlackBerry, and analysts look toward a split up, we can expect many players to be involved. The only question is who will bid on what.


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