AFP – Tech pioneer BlackBerry made a last roll of the dice Monday and agreed to a probable $4.7bn buyout by a consortium planning to take the struggling smart phone maker private.
BlackBerry was once a leader in mobile technology, but has been squeezed out by rivals Android and Apple, which coincidentally announced record sales of its latest iPhone on Monday.
The Ontario-based company said it had signed a letter of intent with a group led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, which has offered to acquire the company.
Fairfax, a Canadian firm headed by billionaire Prem Watsa, is already BlackBerry’s largest shareholder with approximately 10% of its shares.
Watsa resigned from BlackBerry’s board in August when it announced a search for a suitor.
Watsa said the sale “will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees.”
“We can deliver immediate value to shareholders while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company.”
Ironically, the announcement came on the same day Apple said it sold a record nine million iPhones in three days after launching two new versions of its smart phone last week.
Under the proposed BlackBerry-Fairfax deal, the consortium would offer $9 for each outstanding share, and Fairfax would contribute its own shares in the transaction.
BlackBerry said its board supports the plan.
A firm deal, once due diligence is completed, is expected by 4 November. It also hinges on the consortium obtaining financing.