John Biers New York
One of BlackBerry’s co-founders had held talks with private equity firms about making a joint bid for the struggling Canadian smartphone maker, The Wall Street Journal reported at the weekend.
Former BlackBerry co-chief executive Mike Lazaridis had talked to firms including Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group, the paper said. It quoted people familiar with the matter.
The report came just a day after BlackBerry said it would cut 4 500 jobs, or 40 percent of its workforce, in the face of hefty losses and weak sales of its new handsets.
Lazaridis and co-founder Jim Balsillie handed over the reins of the company in January last year under pressure from shareholders unhappy with the firm’s performance.
News of the lay-offs showed BlackBerry’s efforts at reviving its fortunes were a stunning failure and pushed the once high-flying firm one step closer to extinction, analysts said.
BlackBerry said it expected a loss of $950 million (R9.4 billion) to $995m in the second quarter, mostly due to writedowns linked to poor sales of its Z10 smartphone, the device aimed at competing against Apple and Android devices.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins was counting on the new BlackBerry 10 phones – introduced in January to good reviews – to reverse a sales slide, return the company to profit and make the brand hip again. Instead, its market share continues to slide and BlackBerry remains unprofitable.
Corporate customers such as Morgan Stanley were holding off on upgrading to the new platform, concerned that the company would not be around to support the devices, people familiar with the matter said last month.
Still, BlackBerry continues to introduce new products. In addition to the Q10, Z10 and Q5 released this year, BlackBerry introduced the Z30 last week.
BlackBerry has hired PwC to evaluate the company for potential buyers, according to two people with knowledge of the move. – Sapa-AFP