John Chen Travels to China to Meet with Lenovo, Which Has History of Wanting to Acquire BlackBerry

We already knew Lenovo was still interested in BlackBerry. Now we know BlackBerry’s chief executive officer has chatted in person with Lenovo.

While Lenovo’s rumoured potential offer in October never materialized, the two companies are clearly well aware of each other.

Lenovo expressed interest in buying the Waterloo-based tech titan in 2013, but the Canadian government told the Beijing-based computer manufacturer it would not allow a Chinese takeover, citing national security concerns. Canada hasn’t spoken up since, despite continued courting by Lenovo to butter up BlackBerry for a possible purchase.

Last month Lenovo announced the creation of a new company focused on the internet of things, a space which BlackBerry has shown emerging interest in. That new company, slated to launch next year, would operate under a separate name and brand.

John Chen, the CEO of BlackBerry, also met with the heads of Xioami Corp and HTC. Chen admitted he is interested in expanding BlackBerry’s currently negligible presence in China. The country is the world’s largest smartphone market but remains notoriously difficult for North American countries to penetrate.

Recently Chen attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Beijing, where he says he was looking for “opportunities” or “partners” with established footholds in the China market. It was his first trip to China as CEO of BlackBerry.

While some investors would welcome an acquisition, analysts suggest it is far less likely BlackBerry will be sold under Chen’s reins than its previous CEO, Thorsten Heins, who was much more eager to sell the company in order to save it. Chen instead believes he can steer the ship around himself.

When Chen replace Heins, it was “do or die,” in his own words. That stage of the game is over, but he is realistic about the obstacles that lay before him. “The hardest part is yet to come,” he told the Financial Times.

“Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again,” Chen told Reuters in a recent interview . “That is definitely something I am very focused on doing.”

“We will survive as a company and now I am rather confident,” he added. “BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth.”

Last week BlackBerry was named Canada’s most innovative company for the second year in a row.