Fairfax Financial Holdings and BlackBerry Ltd. founder Michael Lazaridis appear to disagree about the strategic outlook for the company. Oddly, that could make them a nice fit.
Mr. Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, another founder of BlackBerry, laid out their interest in taking over the company in a regulatory filing. On the face of it, it's difficult to see Fairfax and Mr. Lazaridis working together.
Fairfax and Mr. Laziridis are said to be not on the same page about BlackBerry. Mr. Laziridis, as illustrated in the Globe and Mail's long look at the troubles at BlackBerry, is attached to the keyboard and the physical phone.
Fairfax is not believed to be nearly as interested in the handset business.
The immediate conclusion then becomes the possibility of a rival bid to Fairfax. After all, if they aren't on the same strategic plane, how do they work together?
But maybe not. The strategic split opens an interesting possibility. What if Mr. Lazaridis was the person to take the handset business out of the company to enable a Fairfax led consortium to focus on other areas, such as BlackBerry Messenger and the enterprise server business. (As Bloomberg recently wrote, that business is actually growing briskly and may be the best hope for the company.)
Fairfax has said it wants to keep BlackBerry Canadian. The investment holding company has also said it does not want to split the company, but there is a sense that BlackBerry is more open to that (again here's Bloomberg on that). Mr. Lazaridis is a palatable middle ground.
Moving the handset business to a Lazaridis-led group could bridge those imperatives. He is Canadian, and an icon. Yes, it would be a split, but in the most benign way possible.
Of course, all this presupposes two main things. The first is that Mr. Lazaridis and Fairfax can get the money together, which requires selling other backers and lenders on the strategic vision. The second is that Mr. Lazaridis and his group, whoever that might turn out to be, would be comfortable taking on the handset business alone without the other parts of BlackBerry that are healthier, even if the handset business would likely be sold for a relatively small price given its struggles.