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Co-founders mull bid for embattled BlackBerry Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.

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Co-founders mull run at BlackBerry
The co-founders of what is now BlackBerry Ltd. are eyeing a bid for the embattled smartphone manufacturer.

The potential offer by Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, who together control some 8 per cent of BlackBerry, was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Investment companies owned by the two have struck an agreement to “work exclusively with each other with respect to any potential acquisition of all or a portion of the assets or equity interests” of BlackBerry, according to the document.

They have hired Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs & Co. and Centerview Partners LLC to help in the process.

“In light of [BlackBerry’s] recent announcement that its board of directors has formed a special committee to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale, the reporting persons 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,” the document says.

Mr. Lazaridis, former co-CEO and founder of what was then Research In Motion, and Mr. Fregin, also a founder and former vice-president of operations, together control 41.7 million shares.

BlackBerry is up for auction and has signed a tentative deal that would see Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. lead a consortium to acquire the company for $4.7-billion (U.S.) or $9 a share.

BlackBerry shares have been trading well below that mark, and remain there today, however, as markets question whether the Fairfax deal will get done, despite repeated assurances from Fairfax, which already holds almost 10 per cent of the company.

Other potential suitors, such as U.S. private equity firm Cerberus, have also considered bidding. Industry players such as Google Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and SAP AG are also reportedly eyeing BlackBerry and its assets.

BlackBerry recently posted a quarterly loss of almost $1-billion, and is slashing some 40 per cent of its work force while retreating from the consumer market amid fierce competition with Apple Inc. and its iPhone, Samsung and its Galaxy, and smartphones operating with Google's wildly popular Android system.

(Editor's note: An earlier online version of this story incorrectly stated that Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin together control some 16 per cent of BlackBerry. This online version has been corrected.)

Markets rally
Stocks surged today amid hopes for peace in Washington fiscal war.

On Day 10 of the U.S. government's partial shutdown, signs of an end to the stalemate emerged with a proposal from the Republicans, The Globe and Mail's Kevin Carmichael reports from Washington.

The Republicans offered to boost the debt ceiling for several weeks if there are formal talks aimed at cutting the budget deficit. It was the first time the Republicans have blinked.

No deal was reached during a meeting between the Republicans and President Barack Obama at the White House, but the two sides continue to bargain

Amid the shutdown, fears have mounted that U.S. politicians may not agree to raise the debt limit before Oct. 17, after which the Treasury Department says the government will be tapped out.

That fear turned to optimism early today, however, rippling through global markets.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average surged 2.2 per cent, the latter up by more than 320 points. Toronto's S&P/TSX composite gained 1.3 per cent, or about 164 points.

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