BlackBerry, long ailing, could be target of Cerberus bid

Cerberus Capital Management is interested in acquiring BlackBerry, according to Bloomberg. 

A Canadian flag waves in front of a Blackberry logo at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, in this Sept. 23, 2013 file photo.

Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm based in New York, is mulling an offer for Canadian company BlackBerry, Bloomberg is reporting. According to Bloomberg, Cerberus, which specializes in distressed-assets, has already signed a non-disclosure agreement with BlackBerry, allowing employees at the firm to get a look inside BlackBerry's books. 

"Reviewing the company’s private financial information is the next step for Cerberus as it evaluates what a person familiar with the matter says is a potential move to acquire BlackBerry outright," writes John Paczkowski of All Things D, which has independently confirmed the Bloomberg report. "The distressed-investing firm’s intentions are said to be tentative, though, and it’s entirely possible that it may opt against pursuing a bid." 

In other words: Sit tight. A lot could still change. Consider that in late September, it looked as if Canadian insurance company Fairfax Financial would acquire BlackBerry for $4.7 billion. Since then, however, hope for that deal seems to have faded, amid concerns, as Bloomberg put it, that Fairfax "may be unable to line up funding or partners" for the buyout. 

BlackBerry is coming off a dismal couple of years. In September, the company posted a $1 billion Q2 2013 loss, and announced it would lay off 40 percent of its global workforce, or a whopping 4,500 employees. Once a key player in the smart phone market, BlackBerry has been left in the dust by Apple and Samsung; more recently, the company announced it would pivot its focus away from ordinary consumers and toward business users. 

In an open letter to consumers this week, BlackBerry sought to assure its remaining user base that it would not be abandoned. 

"Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone," the letter reads. "That’s OK. You have always known that BlackBerry is different, that BlackBerry can set you apart. Countless world-changing decisions have been finalized, deals closed and critical communications made via BlackBerry. And for many of you that created a bond, a connection that goes back more than a decade." 

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