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Lenovo may buy BlackBerry

Lenovo is considering making a deal with Research in Motion, in the shape of an acquisition or a long-term partnership, according to Wong Wai Ming, the firm’s Chief Financial Officer. The news comes from a Bloomberg interview with Wong, where he admitted there had already been conversations between Lenovo and RIM’s financial advisors; however no decisions had been made on either side.

The fact discussions haven’t progressed past an early stage isn’t a surprise: Research in Motion has BlackBerry 10 less than a week away from launch, and it’s attracting plenty of positive attention. However, RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins remains realistic about the effect BlackBerry 10 could have on the company’s fortunes, saying recently he’s still open to forming strategic partnerships through licensing the software, or an outright sale of RIM’s hardware division if things don’t go according to plan.

As for Lenovo, Wong said it’s, “Looking at all opportunities – RIM and many others,” before adding, “We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.” Lenovo isn’t afraid of making big, bold purchases either, having snapped up IBM’s PC division for a total of $1.75 billion in 2004, and it has a team dedicated to exploring potential acquisition opportunities.

Lenovo’s smartphone future

Bloomberg notes Lenovo may not have an easy time if it does decide to make a bid for RIM in the future, not only because of security concerns similar to those held against Huawei and ZTE, but also because the Canadian government will review any potential takeover of this size; and it has already stated it would prefer RIM to grow without external interference.

Lenovo is keen to expand its smartphone business. At the moment, Lenovo holds second position in the Chinese smartphone market, with Samsung in first place. In December last year, CEO Yang Yuanqing said the next stage for the company was to head out into other emerging markets before tackling the established markets in the U.S. and Europe. At CES 2013 Lenovo announced the K900, a 6.9mm thick tablet/smartphone hybrid with a 5.5-inch, 1080p touchscreen, a 2GHz Intel Atom processor and a 13-megapixel camera. With hardware like this in its range, smartphone fans would likely welcome Lenovo with open arms.

Movement on a deal with RIM isn’t expected to come soon though, as the company will want to see how BlackBerry 10 is received before making any decisions. An analyst from MKM Partners told Bloomberg if RIM decides to get out of the hardware game, it won’t be for, “Several quarters,” yet. Research in Motion will debut its BlackBerry 10 phones and software on January 30.

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