BlackBerry co-founders considering bid for company
Lazardis and Fregin could make alternative offer to $4.7 billion bid from top shareholder
Mike Lazaridis and co-founder Douglas Fregin are weighing taking over the distressed smartphone company as it searches for a savior. Photograph: Beck Diefenbach/Reuters
BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin are considering a bid to buy the struggling smartphone maker, according to a securities filing yesterday, raising the prospect of an alternative to a $4.7 billion (€3.5 billion) offer led by its top shareholder.
The filing did not indicate whether the pair was planning to join or to present an alternative to a tentative $9-a-share bid by a group led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. Fairfax, which is headed by financier Prem Watsa, has not yet identified other members of the group.
Mr Lazaridis and Mr Fregin together control some 8 per cent of BlackBerry, the filing said. That compares with roughly 10 per cent controlled by Fairfax.
Excluding Mr Fregin’s shares, Mr Lazaridis controls 5.7 per cent of BlackBerry, or about 60,000 shares more than he did at the end of 2012, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Mr Lazaridis, who until early last year was one of BlackBerry’s co-chief executives and co-chairmen, appears to be considering “the widest range of options possible,” BGC Partners technology analyst Colin Gillis said.
“He’s going to talk to people by himself; he’s going to talk to Prem; he’s going to talk to everybody,” said Mr Gillis.
Fairfax declined to comment on the Lazaridis filing, which noted that while Lazaridis and Fregin could make an offer, they could opt to take other steps, including selling their shares.
BlackBerry declined to comment specifically on the news, repeating an earlier statement that it is conducting a robust review of alternatives and would only say more if a deal is done or the strategic review is otherwise ended.