BlackBerry stays public, gets Fairfax and others to adopt $1 billion of its debt, as the stock loses near $1 trading at 6.88, down from $7.77 close on Friday.
One has to hand it to Prem Watsa and the board for showing faith in BlackBerry’s future potential and realizing that it was time for a sweep of the executives at BlackBerry who with the delivery of BB10, failed to gain mind share for the brand and place the product in the hands of customers. I’m looking forward to Watsa’s lead as BlackBerry continues to re-invent itself. The search for a new CEO starts soon and one expects that all top tier management, including the CMO, Frank Boulben, will be moving on soon.
John Chen is replacing Thorsten Heins as interim CEO of BlackBerry. Chen is currently a director at both Wells Fargo and Disney, and his last big management stint was as chairman and CEO of Sybase, where he is credited with transforming the company prior to selling it to SAP
John S. Chen to be Appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and Interim CEO; Prem Watsa to be Appointed Lead Director
Company Concludes Review of Strategic Alternatives and Announces Changes to Board and Leadership Team
WATERLOO, ONTARIO and TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – November 04,
2013) – BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY)(TSX: BB), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that it has entered into an agreement pursuant to which Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (“Fairfax”) and other institutional investors (collectively, the “Purchasers”) will invest in BlackBerry through a U.S. $1 billion private placement of convertible debentures. Fairfax has agreed to acquire U.S. $250 million principal amount of the Debentures. The transaction is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
Under the terms of the transaction, the Purchasers will subscribe for U.S. $1 billion aggregate principal amount of 6% unsecured subordinated convertible debentures (the “Debentures”) convertible into common shares of BlackBerry at a price of U.S. $10.00 per common share (the “Transaction”), a 28.7% premium to the closing price of BlackBerry common shares on November 1, 2013. The Debentures have a term of seven years. Based on the number of common shares currently outstanding, if all of the U.S. $1 billion of Debentures were converted, the common shares issued upon conversion would represent approximately 16% of the common shares outstanding after giving effect to the conversion.
Upon the closing of the transaction, John S. Chen will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and, in that role, will be responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry. Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee and Thorsten Heins and David Kerr intend to resign from the Board at closing.
In addition, Mr. Heins will step down as Chief Executive Officer at closing and Mr. Chen will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer pending completion of a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.
Today’s announcement marks the conclusion of the review of strategic alternatives previously announced on August 12, 2013.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors,” said Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry’s Board. “The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders. This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position. Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”
Ms. Stymiest added, “I am also pleased that John Chen, a distinguished and proven leader in the technology industry, has agreed to serve as BlackBerry’s Executive Chairman. I look forward to continuing to serve BlackBerry as a member of its Board of Directors and chair of the Board’s Audit and Risk Management Committee. On behalf of the Board, I would also like to thank Thorsten for his service to BlackBerry over the past six years. Under his leadership, BlackBerry established a more efficient cost structure, developed new products, saw the adoption of BES 10 and delivered the BlackBerry 10 platform. These are all significant accomplishments. We are grateful for his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
“Fairfax is a long-time supporter, investor and partner to BlackBerry and, with this investment, reinforces its deep commitment to the future success of this company,” said Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax. “I look forward to rejoining the BlackBerry Board and to working with the other directors and management team, under John Chen’s leadership, to shape the next stage of BlackBerry’s strategy and growth.”
“I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry,” said Mr. Chen. “BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential – but it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success. I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees.”
The closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions, including approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Pursuant to the Transaction agreement, the investors have an option to purchase up to an additional U.S. $250 million principal amount of Debentures within 30 days following closing. If an additional U.S. $250 million of Debentures is issued and all U.S. $1.25 billion of Debentures were converted, the common shares issued upon conversion would represent approximately 19.2% of the common shares after giving effect to the conversion, based on the number of common shares currently outstanding.