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Blackberry logos and flags are seen at the company’s offices in Waterloo, Ont. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)
Blackberry logos and flags are seen at the company’s offices in Waterloo, Ont. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)

BlackBerry has talked to potential bidders, plans fast sale: report Add to ...

BlackBerry Ltd. has already held talks with potential bidders in what it hopes will be a quick auction, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Preliminary discussions have already been held with potential bidders for all or just parts of the smartphone company, it added.

That fits with what some analysts have projected, and comes on the heels of Microsoft Corp.’s blockbuster deal for Nokia Corp.’s handset operations yesterday.

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BlackBerry unveiled a strategic review last month, with a sale among its options.

This comes amid heated competition with the likes of Apple Corp.’s iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy offerings, and smartphones running Google Inc.’s Android system.

According to the Journal report, BlackBerry could wrap up a sale as early as November.

It has narrowed the number of potential suitors, and full-scale talks will start soon, the report said, quoting sources.

BlackBerry shares climbed 5.3 per cent today, and gained further in after-hours trading.

It's not known which parties have spoken to the company, but Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial Holdings is known to be interested. Private equity concerns could also play a role at some point, The Wall Street Journal said.

Analysts have been trying to determine what the Microsoft-Nokia deal could mean for BlackBerry, given its auction.

"We believe this transaction sets a bar for valuing BlackBerry's hardware business, which prior to this was viewed as offering limited value," CIBC World Markets analyst Todd Coupland said before the Journal report.

National Bank analyst Kris Thompson, in turn, lowered his estimate of sales of the new BlackBerry 10 devices to 3 million in the second quarter from a previous projection of 5 million, suggesting the strategic review could be based on "poor BB 10 uptake."

"BlackBerry is in the headlines most days given the company’s rise and demise in the important smartphone market," he said in a report today.

"Our view is that enterprises will further delay implementations and even die-hard consumers will catch wind that BlackBerry is for sale, and not commit to the platform."

Also today, research firm IDC released a report on the smartphone market suggesting the share of the market held by BlackBerry's operating system, which has eroded, will fall further still to 1.7 per cent by 2017 from 2.7 per cent now.

That, of course, does not take into account whatever happens with the auction.

"BlackBerry OS share will decline markedly over the forecast due to tepid BlackBerry 10 reception and emboldened competition that are expected to whittle away share in its remaining regional bastions of strength, such as Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East," IDC said.

"BlackBerry volume will remain flat as the market expands around it thanks to enterprises with security or other specialized needs that continue to purchase devices from the company."

The company said in August, when it launched the review, that it has focused on launching the BB 10 devices and bolstering its financial position.

“We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition," chief executive officer Thorsten Heins said at the time.

A spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

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