BlackBerry Ltd, plans to run a fast auction process, which could see it sell part or whole of the company as soon as November, The Wall Street Journal today reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
In August, the Ontario-based company said that it will explore strategic alternatives that could eventually see the company broken up and sold to the highest bidder. (See: BlackBerry considers strategic options including sale)
The news comes in the same week when Nokia agreed to sell its handset operations to Microsoft for $7.1 billion. (See: Microsoft to acquire Nokia's handset business for $7.1 bn)
Blackberry has held preliminary talks with parties interested in buying part or all of the company, and has narrowed its list of potential bidders, the report said.
Potential bidders could be Canadian and US financial firms like Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Bain Capital, as well as some Asian tech companies including Chinese smartphone and computer maker Lenovo Group, the report added.
If a sale does not materialise, Blackberry would look at alternatives, including, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, or other possible transactions, the company had said last month.
BlackBerry's strategic plan includes alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate the deployment of its new platform BlackBerry 10, launched earlier in January.
According to commentators, even if it tried, BlackBerry would find it hard to come up with a buyer and the funding to go private. With the company's bottom line in the red and subscribers deserting, private equity firms and other buyers might not want to step in.
The company's shares have plunged over 19 per cent this year, with its market value down to $4.8 billion, from $84 billion at its peak in 2008.
BlackBerry's openness to consider a deal comes as a radical shift in thinking for the company. Till recently, BlackBerry, known earlier as Research in Motion, a pioneer in providing secured emails on handheld devices, had firmly pushed for staying independent, pinning its hopes on a turnaround for its latest smart phones.
Privatisation of the company would seem to suit executives in BlackBerry's board room, as it would shield them from persistent shareholder and analyst scrutiny.
The cost of going private at its current share price, could be between $5 billion and $7 billion, at conservative estimates, say analysts.
At around the stock's peak in 2008, the smart phone maker was valued at about $84 billion. Over the past few years, the company's stock price had tanked heavily with the growth in popularity of market players such as Apple's iPhone and smart phones on the Android operating system.