BlackBerry says it has signed a deal to be bought by a consortium led by its largest shareholder in a deal valued at U$4.7 billion.
The consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings. Ltd. has offered US$9 per share in cash for the smartphone maker.
• Chatter: The future of BlackBerry
Under the deal, the consortium would all acquire of the outstanding shares of BlackBerry not held by Fairfax, which owns approximately a 10% in the company.
The BlackBerry board of directors has approved the terms of the letter of agreement.
It is unclear what the group’s plans for the company are, though many have long speculated the sum of BlackBerry’s assets, including its patents for smartphone keyboards and the BlackBerry mobile operating system, are worth more than the company is as smartphone maker.
Kerry Morrison, CEO of Endloop Mobile, a Toronto-based mobile development firm, said that is one route BlackBerry could take. “If the plan is to keep it as it is in a slightly smarter fashion and attack the enterprise market, that ship has sailed. It needs to be something bigger than that,” he said.
Morrison said he expects very little effect on the mobile industry in Canada, though he said it will take a toll on Waterloo, where the company is headquartered. However, given the number of corporations that have set up office in the Waterloo area, from Amazon to Google and Canadian Tire, Morrison said the technology ecosystem will likely bounce back quickly from the loss of BlackBerry.
BlackBerry shares were down 60 cents at C$8.48 on the Toronto Stock Exchange shortly before a trading halt on North American markets.
Trading on public markets is set to resume at 2 p.m. ET.
The Fairfax consortium is expected to complete its due diligence by Nov. 4. Until then, BlackBerry is allowed to actively solicit and evaluate rival offers.