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Fairfax Financial Holdings chief Prem Watsa (AARON HARRIS/REUTERS)
Fairfax Financial Holdings chief Prem Watsa (AARON HARRIS/REUTERS)

Business Briefing

BlackBerry shares slip below $8 even as Fairfax's Prem Watsa fires back at deal skeptics Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

Watsa on offensive
The man behind the proposed buyout of BlackBerry Ltd. is going on the offensive to win over the skeptics.

Prem Watsa’s efforts come amid mounting doubts that the proposed $4.7-billion (U.S.) rescue of the embattled smartphone maker will succeed.

BlackBerry shares slipped below $8 on Nasdaq today, dipping 0.7 per cent to $7.95, still well shy of Mr. Watsa’s planned $9-a-share offer and an indication of the unease among investors.

Mr. Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is floating a tentative offer that would see a Fairfax-led consortium take BlackBerry private.

Fairfax has until early November to scour BlackBerry’s books and firm up a bid. But questions remain about financing and other issues. And there has been no mention by Fairfax of the potential consortium members.

As The Globe and Mail’s Omar El Akkad reports, BlackBerry shares sank by about 6 per cent yesterday as investors questioned whether Fairfax can raise enough equity. At this point, only the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is said to be seriously considering whether to join the effort.

“We’ve got a track record of 28 years of completing what we’ve done,” Mr. Watsa stressed in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We’ve never renegotiated.”

The interview was among a couple with various news organizations as Mr. Watsa moves to convince investors he will pull off the deal for BlackBerry, which is expected tomorrow to post a second-quarter loss of almost $1-billion.

Here’s what he told The Associated Press: “We thought long and hard before we offered $9 a share and we’re not in the business of offering a number and at the last minute changing the figure … Rest assured when we do this it won’t be done to split the company.”

To Reuters: “We wouldn’t put our name to such a high-profile deal if we didn’t feel confident that at the end of the day that our diligence would be fine and we’d be able to finance it … Short term these things fluctuate, there is speculation one way, there’s speculation the other way. We never pay too much attention to the marketplace.”

Mr. Watsa said Fairfax won’t put in anything more to the offer than the 10 per cent of BlackBerry it now owns.

“The 10 per cent is like $500-million,” he said.

“It’s a significant amount of money. We’re going to bring equity partners and we think the company will be very well capitalized.”

Husky, Statoil in oil find
Canada's Husky Energy Inc. and Norwegian partner Statoil ASA say they have made a major oil discovery in the Flemish Pass Basin, offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

The find of light oil last month at the Bay du Nord prospect contains an estimated 400 million barrels, Husky said in a statement today.

In a separate statement, Statoil said the exploration well has found between 300 and 600 million barrels of recoverable oil, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

“The Flemish Pass has the potential to become a core producing area for Statoil post-2020,” Statoil exploration chief Tim Dodson said in a statement.

What Poloz has to say
Get a taste of Kevin Carmichael's interview with Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, the full version of which will be published tomorrow in Report on Business Magazine.

Mr. Poloz is highly skeptical that the old rules of economic analysis apply in the post-crisis world, Mr. Carmichael writes.

“The context, as it was with [former] governor [Mark] Carney, is a whole different context in this period of time,” Mr. Poloz  says.

Rogers bundling magazines
Rogers Media is taking a lesson from its parent company’s cable division, as it bundles all of its magazines into a single digital monthly subscription package that will also include dozens of American titles such as Rolling Stone and The New Yorker, The Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye reports.

More than 100 magazines will be available to monthly subscribers through the Next Issue Canada app, a modified version of tablet software that has been available to U.S. subscribers for 18 months and is now being looked at to help stabilize a magazine industry that has been reeling from declining advertising revenue.

The service will appeal to heavier readers – at $9.99 a month for access to monthly magazines and $14.99 a month for a subscription that includes weekly magazines.

Barrick says will push ahead
Barrick Gold Corp. says it intends to proceed with its controversial Pascua-Lama gold mine in South America after Chile’s highest court issued a ruling that requires the company to complete a water-management system that must first meet the approval of the country’s environment ministry, Mr. Marotte reports.

The ruling by the Supreme Court of Chile confirms an earlier decision by a lower court requiring Toronto-based Barrick to complete Pascua-Lama’s water management system in compliance with the project’s environmental permit, Barrick said in a statement today.

Barrick says the decision puts an end to a constitutional rights protection action filed last year on behalf of four indigenous communities, which sought to strike down the project’s environmental licence.

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