BlackBerry Abandons Plan to Sell the Company, Stock Plunges

The stock price of BlackBerry declined more than 16% to $6.49 per share on Monday after the company revealed that it is abandoning its plan to sell the company instead it is raising $1 billion funding to continue its business as a public company. The Canadian smartphone manufacturer’s CEO Thorstein Heins is stepping down from his position.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, (TSE:FFH) (OTCMKTS:FRFHF), the financial holding company controlled by Prem Watsa withdrew its $4.7 billion proposal to acquire BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) after its due diligence.

In an interview with Reuters, Watsa explained that the consulting company working with Fairfax Financial recommended against its proposal because it was not good for BlackBerry. Watsa said, “We did the due diligence … and our conclusion was that a leveraged buyout with high-yield debt and at high interest rate was not appropriate for this company. And so we came out with the convertible debenture deal that we saw as more appropriate.”

Watsa denied reports that Fairfax Financial experienced problems raising financing for its $4.7 billion offer. He emphasized that his firm “never had problem lining up financing.”

Fairfax Financial is one of the largest shareholders of BlackBerry with 10% stake in the company. The financial holding company decided to purchase the convertible debt of the Canadian smartphone manufacturer worth $250 million.

“One of the things that was hurting this company is that there was a for sale sign up. The ‘for sale’ sign is taken down. We have financing in place for the long term,” according Watsa.

BlackBerry appointed John Chen as interim CEO and executive chairman of the company. He was responsible in reviving Sybase, an enterprise software and service company during the 1990s. Sybase was acquired by SAP AG in 2010.

Chen said BlackBerry’s recovery will take at least six quarter, and he is planning to reorganize the executive team of the company. He intends to promote some of the executives in the company, will hire new people. Chen also plans to continue the smartphone business of the company despite its losses.

“I know we have enough ingredients to build a long-term sustainable business. I have done this before and seen the same movie before. I’m doing this for the long term. I am going to rebuild this company,” said Chen.