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Lenovo latest in line for BlackBerry deal

Chinese firm's CEO hints that it would be interested in buying the Canadian firm, but its prey is more coy


Published: 12 March, 2013

READ MORE: M&A | BlackBerry

Chinese vendor Lenovo has entered the handset top 10 on the back of its strong position in its native China, and may look to boost that position further via a deal with BlackBerry according to some sources.

BlackBerry shares made their sharpest leap in over a month after Lenovo's CEO told French newspaper Les Echos that his firm could consider buying the Canadian firm - sparking speculation that a licensing deal for the new BB10 operating system might be in the works even sooner.

Yang Yuanqing told the financial newspaper that a deal with BlackBerry "could possibly make sense, but first I need to analyze the market and understand what exactly the importance of this company is". This echoed comments made in January by the Chinese firm's CFO Wong Wai Min, who said he was "looking at all opportunities", including possibly BlackBerry.

The former RIM has been examining its strategic options for almost a year though it has held out against the prospect of outright sale until it gauges the success of its turnaround products - BB10 and its first smartphone, the Z10, and the less hyped BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10, which takes the company's back end systems into the BYOD environment.

Indeed, when asked about Lenovo's January comments, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said he did not know the basis of the remarks, but then was more enigmatic, telling Bloomberg: "As always with these topics, we will talk about things when they are ready to be talked about and ready to be announced. There are other constituents in the process that need to be involved -- if there would be anything."

BlackBerry reports its quarterly figures on March 28, when Heins is expected to update investors on any developments in the strategic review.

Any foreign bid for BlackBerry would need regulatory approval in Canada, with the regulators needing to assess that a merger would be of "net benefit" to the country and its economy.

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