BlackBerry Hangs “For Sale” Sign

Big questions this morning about what will happen with the phone and platform that media execs once couldn’t live without. BlackBerry shares are up 4.8% after the board said it has formed a Special Committee to look at “strategic alternatives” — including a possible sale. During the process the company will continue with “our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of [BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10], as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones,” CEO Thorsten Heins says. But the company’s bowing to the fact that investors have lost faith in its effort with BlackBerry 10 — the platform it introduced with great fanfare in January — to regain the market share that the company has lost to Apple and phones that run Google’s Android operating system. BlackBerry had 4.4% of the U.S. market in June, down from 10.7% in the same month last year, according to comScore MobiLens data. BlackBerry shares have lost 30.7% of their value since late June when the company disclosed that it sold fewer phones in the first three months of 2013 than it did in the period last year and warned that its losses would continue into the current quarter, frustrating analysts who had predicted a profit. Even so, “We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition,” Heins says. Prem Watsa — from BlackBerry’s largest stockholder, Fairfax Financial — says that the firm “has no current intention of selling its shares,” but resigned from the board to avoid conflicts of interest. JP Morgan Securities will provide financial advise to Blackberry while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Torys will help with legal matters. Shares in BlackBerry, formerly called Research in Motion, traded for more than $215 in July 2007 and closed on Friday at $9.76. The company has a market value of $5.4B.

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