BlackBerry Ponders Going Private
Struggling smartphone maker considers privatization strategy to buy more turnaround time.
BlackBerry's leadership has had a change of heart about the idea of taking the company private. Chief executive Thorsten Heins and the company's board are weighing more seriously whether such a move would give the company the time it needs to successfully execute its turnaround strategy.
There are no immediate plans to go private, but "there is a change of tone on the board," according to a source cited by Reuters. Until recently, Heins had remained adamant about remaining a public company. The new tone is a departure from his earlier stance.
The primary benefit of going private would be to get impatient shareholders off its back. BlackBerry's investors have grown surly watching the firm lose 80% of its value over the last few years as the smartphone maker struggles to compete with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy-branded devices. The company took a year longer than planned to launch its BlackBerry 10 platform, during which its market share plummeted. The first BB10 devices launched earlier this year but have so far failed to catch on with customers. BlackBerry sold just 2.7 million BB10 devices during its most recent quarter, which was about 40% lower than analysts' and investors' expectations.
"Going private is always appealing in theory because you're no longer beholden to the short-term whims of investors. In practice, of course, the way you go private is being bought by private equity firms that usually have their own agendas and may not keep the current board around," said Ovum analyst Jan Dawson. "So it's a risky bet to signal that you're open to the idea, because you never know where it might lead."... Read full story on InformationWeek
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