BlackBerry Board of Directors Announces Exploration of Strategic Alternatives. As mentioned in our post before about the press release, what BlackBerry was essentially communicating was nothing new to what we've heard before. Unfortunately for BlackBerry, the only real difference with today's press release was the addition of five little words (emboldened for emphasis):
"These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions."
Headlines like "BlackBerry is officially for sale, but will it find a buyer?" (CNET) ran all over social media. However, the one that took the cake was Mashable's moronic "BlackBerry Confirms It's Looking For A Buyer." No, Mashable, they aren't.
What BlackBerry is actually doing is looking at all possibilities. And yes, one of them is a sale, obviously, but that's more than likely the last thing they'll be willing to do. What is most likely to happen is for the company to instead go private. What does that mean exactly?
Well to put it in simple terms, when a company is publicly traded in the stock market, it has a ton of owners, its shareholders, who buy, sell, and trade stock as much they want. In order for a company to go private, it needs someone, a person or company, to buy off these shares, and then take the company off the stock market. Who could possibly do this? To get an idea of who it could be, we need to check out another important part of today's press release.
With the announcement of the Special Committee, Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial informed the Company that he felt it was appropriate to resign due to potential conflicts that may arise during the process. Fairfax Financial is the largest BlackBerry shareholder. Mr. Watsa said, "I continue to be a strong supporter of the Company, the Board and Management as they move forward during this process, and Fairfax Financial has no current intention of selling its shares."
Taking BlackBerry private is also not a shoo-in. It would require their shareholders to sell what they have, at a hefty price most likely, and get a vote of approval, as well. Now, if this were to occur, it wouldn't signal that they're giving up on the smartphone business or even that sales of BlackBerry 10 aren't what they hoped. No, a decision like that would simply be for the long-term benefit of the company as a whole.
Let's not forget, BBM going cross platform is still a huge deal for BlackBerry. I have no doubt they will not take their foot off the pedal when it comes to this, and its other future products. Whether it's the Z30, or the mobile computing vision that Heins has talked about, BlackBerry will keep moving. It isn't up for sale now, and it may not be for a very long time.