Lenovo Latest Company Said to be Interested in Acquiring BlackBerry

Lenovo has signed a non-disclosure agreement to get an inside look at BlackBerry as the China-based computer manufacturer ponders a bid, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Citing unnamed sources, the WSJ claims that Lenovo is interested in acquiring the whole company.

Even if Lenovo did make a bid, however, it would likely face a great deal of scrutiny from the federal government, which would look for the acquisition to offer a “net benefit” for Canada.

Spokespeople for both Lenovo and BlackBerry are declining to comment on the speculation. However, Wong Mai Ming, Lenovo’s chief financial officer, told Bloomberg this week that “we will not buy for the sake of buying.”

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Meanwhile, Research In Motion founder Mike Lazaridis has has hired investment banking firm Goldman Sachs to help him explore a bid for BlackBerry. Any offer he makes, though, would be in competition with a $4.7 billion bid from a consortium of investors led by Prem Watsa and his Fairfax Financial Holdings, which is already BlackBerry’s largest shareholder with a 10% stake. But that deal, which currently lacks the additional investors needed to come up with the funds, is fragile.

Critics question why Lazaridis would attempt to bid on BlackBerry in the same manner as Watsa, given that neither are apt to raise enough money from additional investors.

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“Here’s a competing transaction that’s going to look out for financing the same way that Fairfax is out looking for financing,” said Catharine Sterritt, a Toronto-based risk arbitrage strategist at Bank of Nova Scotia, told Bloomberg. “It doesn’t make any sense to me that these guys will end up competing.”

Lazaridis insists he has a turnaround plan for BlackBerry, but such things have been said before. The Waterloo-based smartphone pioneer has lost roughly 95% of its value since 2008.