Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM), the troubled maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, is in talks to hire a financial adviser that can help it weigh strategic options, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
RIM is considering hiring one Canadian bank and one global bank, said one of the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the deliberations are private.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM last month said it is weighing strategic changes, including licensing the BlackBerry operating system, after its struggle to vie with Apple Inc.’s iPhone and devices that use Android software led to five straight quarters of revenue shortfalls. RIM Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said at the time that while the company would consider a sale, that wasn’t “the main direction” he’s pursuing.
The company’s willingness to seek help from external advisers suggests a new openness to a takeover or a strategic investment from a management team that had before now spurned bankers’ pitches, the people said. RIM has declined 75 percent in the past 12 months amid market share losses to Apple and smartphone makers that rely on Google Inc.’s Android software.
RIM shares rose 4.1 percent to $13.42 at the close.
Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for RIM, declined to comment, citing company policy not to speak to market rumor or speculation.
Heins, who replaced co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in January, said on March 29 that RIM will redouble efforts to attract business customers while reviewing options, such as licensing, partnerships, joint ventures and other ways to “leverage” assets.
“It is difficult to say at this point in time what kinds of opportunities may surface throughout this strategic review process, but we intend to keep you updated, where possible, as we progress through this exercise,” he said then.
Options include finding ways to wring more money from its messaging service and patents portfolio, which are its most valuable assets, the people said. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Samsung Electronics Co. could be among the interested parties, the people said.
By Serena Saitto
Courtesy of Bloomberg News