Farifax to buy Blackberry for $4.7 billion

Fairfax, Blackberry's largest shareholder, has agreed to buy the ailing company for $4.7 billion. Blackberry shares plunged on the news of the Fairfax sale.

Nathan Denette/AP/File
Thorsten Heins, CEO of Blackberry, is seen in Toronto on a video link from New York in January as he introduces the BlackBerry Z10. Fairfax Financial Holdings has offered to buy BlackBerry in a deal that values the Canadian smartphone company at about US$4.7 billion, on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013.

BlackBerry has agreed to sell itself for $4.7 billion to a group led by largest shareholder, Fairfax.

BlackBerry said Monday that a letter of intent has been signed and its shareholders will receive $9 in cash for each share.

Fairfax head Prem Watsa is a former board member who owns 10 percent of BlackBerry. Watsa stepped down when BlackBerryannounced it was considering a sale last month. The billionaire is one of Canada's best-known value investors. .

Trading of the company's stock was halted ahead of the news. BlackBerry shares plunged after the company announced Friday a loss of nearly $1 billion and layoffs of 4,500 workers.

The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, was once the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other consumers before Apple's iPhone debuted in 2007.

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