Ontario’s Economic Development Minister is bullish on the future of BlackBerry Ltd. but indicated Monday that the provincial government will not intervene if the company is broken up and sold in pieces.
“I don’t think we are going to intervene in a business decision taken by the company,” Eric Hoskins said in an interview in London. “Our preference is for BlackBerry to remain its own entity and to remain in Ontario.”
Mr. Hoskins is in London to meet business leaders and speak at the Bloomberg Enterprise Technology Summit which begins on Tuesday. He said his message to the conference will be that BlackBerry has a “strong future” and that it has helped create a thriving “ecosystem” for high tech companies in Ontario.
“I don’t think anybody is certain in terms of what the future of BlackBerry holds but it still produces, both on the hardware and the software side, products which are appreciated by a great number of individuals and companies,” Mr. Hoskins said. “I wouldn’t write it off yet. It has the technology which is still very much in demand. But it’s a fast moving business and particularly on the consumer side any company needs to be able to innovate quickly to respond to changing consumer needs and what the market place holds. I remain optimistic.”
When asked if BlackBerry could face the same fate as Nortel Networks Corp., which was carved up and sold in pieces, Mr. Hoskins said he remained hopeful that would not happen. “We want to do everything we could to make sure that it continues as a thriving company in Ontario,” he said.
He added that it will be up to the federal government to decide if a sale of any part of the company is in the best interests of the country. “The federal government looks at things through a slightly different lens. If there is an aspect of the company that does come up for sale the federal government will look in terms of who it might be comfortable with. But these are still relatively early days and there’s nothing at this stage indicating that is likely to happen,” he said.
He added that BlackBerry has helped create a vibrant high tech sector in Ontario “that can withstand any pressures or shocks caused by the future of BlackBerry.”