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BlackBerry to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion

Blackberry Z10

BlackBerry announced today that it has agreed to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited for US$4.7-billion, pending due diligence.

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The conclusion of the deal would be seen as a positive outcome, enabling BlackBerry to go private and re-focus on enterprise solutions beyond the stresses of Wall Street. By way of a letter of intent, BlackBerry said that shareholders would receive US$9 in cash for each BlackBerry share they hold.

The deal is not final as the announcement stipulates that BlackBerry is entitled to “go-shop” during the due diligence period, subject to payment of a termination fee in the event of an alternative offer being accepted.

The due diligence process is expected to be wrapped up in six weeks.

As reported, BlackBerry’s efforts will shift back to enterprise, with a trimmed down product line. Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, said: “We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”

The glimmer of good news for the troubled smartphone maker comes on the heels of a new round of jobs cuts and a dire preliminary earnings report issued in advance of BlackBerry’s second quarter fiscal 2014 earnings report. The preliminary report lists a net operating loss of approximately US$950 million based largely on the slow sales of the Z10.

The bad news was compounded recently with the fumbled execution of BlackBerry’s cross-platform BBM launch.

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