Blackberry at centre of bidding war between its co-founders and largest shareholder


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The Independent Online

Blackberry, the struggling smartphone maker that last month agreed to sell itself to a group of buyers led by its largest shareholder, could find itself at the centre of a bidding war after the company's co-founders said they were considering buying the business.

Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin disclosed that they were considering a possible joint bid in a securities filing on Thursday showing that they had raised their stake in the business to 8 per cent. Such a move would put them in competition with Fairfax Financial, the company's largest shareholder with a stake of around 10 per cent, which is leading the consortium of buyers that last month tabled a $4.7bn offer to take the business private.

The Fairfax bid came to light just days after company, which was once worth more than $80bn, warned the stock market that it was running up a massive quarterly loss of almost $1bn and preparing to lay off over a third of its global workforce.

The agreement between Blackberry and Fairfax allowed the company to solicit other possible buyers while Fairfax, a giant insurance and financial services conglomerate, conducted due diligence.

The two developments - the go-private offer from Fairfax and the potential bid by its co-founders - illustrate just how far Blackberry has fallen in recent years, as it struggled to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung.

According to IDC, a research firm, smartphones phones running on Blackberry's operating system (OS) are forecast to have a worldwide market share of 2.7 per cent this year, against 75.3 per cent for those running Google's Android system, which used by Samsung's phones.

Apple's iOS operating system, which powers the iPhone, has a nearly 17 per cent share. Compare this to the picture in 2009, when Blackberry had more than 20 per cent of the market.