Yesterday, China’s Lenovo made public its interest in Waterloo-based Research In Motion. Chief financial officer Wong Mai Ming said that the company is “looking at all opportunities,” naming RIM in the same breath.
RIM, as we know, is open to this sort of deal. Chief executive officer Thorsten Heins says the company is considering either licensing its BlackBerry 10 software to competing manufacturers, selling its renowned hardware division, or both.
But is a Lenovo-RIM deal even possible? Well, Lenovo acquired IBM’s ThinkPad laptop business from IBM in 2005 for similar reasons. However, Lenovo already has a solid mobile product portfolio—its business is growing while RIM’s has flattened and even eroded in key markets. Would it actually make sense?
That’s up to Lenovo to decide, but ultimately, logistics wouldn’t stop the company from making a bid. There are too many obvious perks. The company would gain tens of millions of loyal customers worldwide, among other tremendous benefits. What would more likely stop a potential deal in its tracks would be the law.
The Canadian government reviews all foreign bids for domestic companies that exceed $344 million in order to assess whether the deal would generate what they ambiguously call a “net benefit” to the country (RIM’s market value is several billion dollars). The government has done it before, most recently in 2010 when it blocked BHP’s attempted takeover of Potash Corp.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says that if a deal was proposed, it would be “something that we would look carefully at.” Flaherty told Bloomberg that some local technologies are “absolutely” off limits to overseas buyers, though did not specifically cite RIM as one of those technologies.
RIM declined to comment on Lenovo’s interest in a bid.