Co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin May Rescue BlackBerry

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BlackBerry Ltd. (BB) co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin said they may make a takeover offer for the struggling smartphone maker.
The former BlackBerry executives have hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Centerview Partners LLC to help them study their options, according to a filing today. They signed an agreement to work together on any potential offer.
A bid for Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry would compete with a $4.7 billion offer from Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FFH), the company’s biggest shareholder, which is seeking partners to help finance a buyout. BlackBerry put itself up for sale after it failed to gain back market share with new products following years of losing ground to Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
Lazaridis and Fregin are considering a joint bid “with the goal of stabilizing and ultimately reinventing the company based on a plan developed by them,” they said in the filing. Lazaridis declined to comment.
BlackBerry rose as much as 2.1 percent in New York trading after the filing was released. It was up 0.5 percent to $8.15 at 2:09 p.m., still below Fairfax’s $9-a-share proposal. The co-founders together control 8 percent of BlackBerry’s shares, the filing said. Toronto-based Fairfax has a 9.9 percent stake.
A special committee of BlackBerry’s board continues to review its options, Lisette Kwong, a spokeswoman for BlackBerry, said in an e-mail.
“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,” she said.
Paul Rivett, president of Fairfax, didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Old Friends
Lazaridis, the former co-chief executive officer, and Fregin, its ex-vice president of operations, have been friends since the fifth grade and co-founded BlackBerry while they were engineering students. They now own Quantum Valley Investments, which focuses on developing quantum computing technology.
Since quitting the top job at BlackBerry and then leaving its board in March, Lazaridis has focused his attention on quantum computing and nanotechnology, the science and technology of things approaching the size of an atom.
Fregin left BlackBerry in 2007. Thorstein Heins became CEO of the company last year, and Lazaridis stayed on as vice chairman until May.
While Lazaridis and Fregin say they have a turnaround plan for BlackBerry, the company is now more open to a breakup amid concerns that Fairfax may be unable to line up funding or partners for its takeover offer, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Companies such as SAP AG (SAP), Cisco Systems Inc. and Samsung, which were approached last week by BlackBerry advisers, have indicated they’re only interested in parts of the company, people familiar with the discussion said.
A breakup would let parties bid for BlackBerry’s most valuable pieces, such as its patents or enterprise network, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
To contact the reporters on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net; Katia Dmitrieva in Toronto at edmitrieva1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

Source: http://mobile.businessweek.com/news/2013-10-10/blackberry-co-founders-lazaridis-fregin-consider-takeover

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