Former BlackBerry CEO considers buying firm

Mike Lazaridis ups his stake in BlackBerry and is in talks with fellow co-founder Doug Fregin about buying the struggling mobile manufacturer

The former CEO of BlackBerry has grown his share in the company and hinted at a possible buy-out.

A security filing from the Canadian mobile manufacturer submitted on 10 October showed Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of the company and CEO between 1984 and 2012, had raised his stake from 5.7% at the end of last year to 8% in partnership with fellow co-founder Doug Fregin.

The document also revealed the pair could be preparing a bid for the struggling firm, despite BlackBerry already having accepted a preliminary offer from its largest shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings, which owns 10%, for $4.7bn.

The filing read: “In light of [BlackBerry’s] recent announcement that its board of directors has formed a special committee to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale, the reporting persons [Lazaridis and Fregin] are considering all available options with respect to their holdings of the shares, including, without limitation, a potential acquisition of all the outstanding shares of the issuer that they do not currently own, either by themselves or with other interested investors.

“In that regard [Lazaridis and Fregin] entered into an agreement to explore the possibility of submitting a potential joint bid to acquire the shares of the issuer that they do not currently own.”

Computer Weekly asked BlackBerry for comment on the possible acquisition, but the statement from its spokesman showed the company was remaining tight-lipped.

“The special committee, with the assistance of the company’s independent financial and legal advisors, is conducting a robust and thorough review of strategic alternatives,” the spokesman said. “We do not intend to disclose further developments with respect to the process until we approve a specific transaction or otherwise conclude the review of strategic alternatives.”

A number of other names have been touted as prospective buyers of the firm, from operating system rivals such as Google and Microsoft to fellow manufacturers Samsung and LG.

BlackBerry made it clear that despite accepting Fairfax’s offer in September to take it private, it was still open to other offers.

Following the announcement, Barbara Stymiest, chair of BlackBerry’s board of directors, said: “The special committee [charged with finding a buyer for the company] is seeking the best available outcome for the company's constituents, including for shareholders.

“Importantly, the go-shop process provides an opportunity to determine if there are alternatives superior to the present proposal from the Fairfax consortium.”  

Read more on Mobile networks