Skip to main content

Blackberry logos and flags are seen at the company’s offices in Waterloo, Ont.

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., the largest shareholder of BlackBerry Ltd., is courting some of Canada's largest pension plans to join it in a buyout consortium as one of the options for the embattled smartphone maker.

It has been a tough sell so far. Sources say none of the big funds have jumped on board with the idea, amid growing skepticism about the company's ability to turn around falling sales. Fairfax is also talking to potential buyers for its 9.9-per-cent stake.

BlackBerry announced in August that it had formed a committee to explore all strategic options, including putting itself up for sale. That process is expected to conclude around November.

Story continues below advertisement

Takeover speculation has pushed up the company's stock since then, and a report in the U.K.'s Sunday Times that said Fairfax had assembled "billions in backing" from Canadian pension funds drove up the stock nearly 6 per cent on Monday to $11.96. That price is a fraction of the $138.57 that BlackBerry's stock commanded at its peak in 2008.

Fairfax has made overtures to a number of pension plans, private equity firms and technology companies to review a variety of strategic options including an acquisition. But the firm is still debating whether it will ultimately participate in a buyout of BlackBerry or whether to sell its stake in any deal. Its preference is to find an industry player – another tech company – to buy BlackBerry, sources said.

People familiar with the discussions said none of Canada's major pension plans is yet prepared to join a takeover consortium.

Industry giants such as Microsoft and Google once coveted the company's booming global BlackBerry smartphone business, but Bay Street sources said the company's loss of market share to bigger and more nimble competitors such as Apple has dampened potential acquisition interest. According to people familiar with the process, a number of U.S. tech giants have been invited to consider a bid, but their intentions are unknown.

Fairfax currently owns a 9.9-per-cent stake in BlackBerry, and its chief executive officer Prem Watsa recently resigned from the board of BlackBerry, enabling Fairfax to explore its options independently. It is understood that Mr. Watsa remains remains on good terms with BlackBerry's board.

Fairfax has long been an investor in BlackBerry and doubled stake to nearly 10 per cent in the summer of 2012, shortly after Mr. Watsa joined the board.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies