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Updated: Co-founders Lazaridis and Fregin looking at potential BlackBerry takeover bid


 

TORONTO – BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin are looking at making a potential takeover bid for the troubled smartphone maker (TSX:BB).

According to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, the two are “interested in pursuing a joint bid” with “the goal of stabilizing and ultimately reinventing the company.”

The filing with the regulator said Lazaridis and Fregin are “considering all available options with respect to their holdings of the shares, including, without limitation, a potential acquisition of all the outstanding shares of the issuer that they do not currently own, either by themselves or with other interested investors.”

BlackBerry has struggled this year as sales of its latest smartphones failed to catch fire.

In August, the Waterloo, Ont., company launched a strategic review to explore its options including the possible sale or break up of its operations.

Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFH), BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, has made a conditional takeover bid worth $9 per share and values the company at $4.7 billion.

Together, Lazaridis and Fregin own roughly an eight per cent stake in BlackBerry, while Fairfax holds about 10 per cent.

Lazaridis served as president, co-chief executive and co-chairman of BlackBerry before he stepped aside in January 2012.

Fregin helped Lazaridis found the company formerly known as Research In Motion and served as vice-president of operations before he left.

The Fairfax offer is hinged on several conditions that make it far from a done deal.

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.

The company said it is “conducting a robust and thorough review of strategic alternatives.”

“We do not intend to disclose further developments with respect to the process until we approve a specific transaction or otherwise conclude the review of strategic alternatives,” BlackBerry said in a statement Thursday.

BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins is working through what he’s described as a three-stage plan to return the company to profitability.

The company recently announced a plan to cut about 40 per cent of its global workforce, or 4,500 jobs, as a way to save money. On Thursday, it announced it was closing its offices in the Halifax area, eliminating more than 300 jobs as part of an effort to cut costs.

Last month, BlackBerry booked a US$965-million loss for the second quarter of fiscal 2014, mostly due to a writedown of inventory.


 
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