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Mike Lazaridis ends plan for BlackBerry bid

Back in October, as BlackBerry was looking around for a buyer, it emerged that its co-founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis was considering a bid to rival the $4.7 billion offer that’d been made by Toronto-based consortium Fairfax Financial.

However, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday has revealed that any plans to acquire the company he helped build have now been abandoned, with Lazaridis offloading a number of his shares and terminating an agreement with Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners, who he’d hired for advice on a potential bid. 

The former co-CEO sold 3.5 million shares for about $27.4 million, leaving him with a 4.99 percent stake in the company, down from 5.7 percent prior to the sale.

It appears Lazaridis’s share sell-off was prompted by a rare increase in BlackBerry’s share value, which rose by around 15 percent at the end of last week after the company announced it had struck a deal with tech manufacturer Foxconn to make new phones and in addition was planning to refocus the business on its traditional customer base of enterprise users.

Struggle

The mobile maker once dominated the smartphone space with a more than 50 percent share of the US market. In recent years, however, the Waterloo, Ontario company has suffered terribly in the face of tough competition from the likes of Apple with its iPhone and handsets running the Android operating system, with one research firm earlier this month putting its US share of the market at less than 1 percent.

Lazaridis stepped down from his co-CEO position, along with Jim Balsillie, in January 2012, with the company struggling badly on a number of fronts.

The then RIM COO Thorsten Heins was brought in to take charge and oversee the launch of the company’s all-new BB10 mobile operating system and handsets launched at the start of the year, though meaningful sales failed to materialize.

Heins was replaced in November by John Chen, former CEO of business software company Sybase, after an attempt by the company to sell itself off ended without success. Instead, it agreed to receive a strategic investment from a group led by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial.

Lazaridis’s share sale comes just days after the company posted a $4.4 billion loss for the third quarter of 2013, along with a big write-down of assets.