BlackBerry Buyout Fails, Thorsten Heins Ousted
Today BlackBerry announced that the proposed $4.7 billion buyout for the company has fallen through. Today was the final day that a consortium of interested buyers led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited had for due dilligence. The consortium has been unable to raise the cash for the proposed sale, and instead will be investing $1 billion in BlackBerry through a debenture. This new funding is expected to come through within the next two weeks.
“The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders,” said Barbara Stymiest, current chair of BlackBerry’s board of directors. “This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position. Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”
When the funding deal concludes, current BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins will be out as CEO. Heins and fellow BlackBerry board member David Kerr are also expected to resign from the board at that time.
John Chen, former CEO of Sybase, will be appointed to the role of interim CEO after the funding concludes. Chen will also join the BlackBerry board as its Executive Chair and will, according to BlackBerry, be responsible for the “strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry.” Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial, will also be appointed as the chair of the board’s Compensation, Nomination, and Governance committee.
“I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry,” said Chen. “BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential – but it’s going to take time, discipline, and tough decisions to reclaim our success. I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees.”
The news of the buyout failure comes as a huge blow to BlackBerry. Though the company’s BlackBerry Messenger has recently become popular on iOS and Android platforms, the software’s release could be too late to save the company.
BlackBerry last month revealed a nearly $1 billion quarterly loss on revenues that were dismally low. The company has been struggling to sell its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones since their release early this year, and the company’s market share has continued to drop. The news also comes just as BlackBerry is in the middle of another round of layoffs, with at least 4,500 more employees expected to leave the company by the end of this year.