Company has formed a special committee to look at all options for its future, biggest shareholder leaves the board over possible conflict of interest

For some time BlackBerry Inc. has said it is open to almost all options for its future. Now the Waterloo, Ont.,based company is doing more about it including possibly selling the company.

It announced this morning that the board has formed a special committee to explore “strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale” to increase sales.

“These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, the sale of the company or other possible transactions.”

It is the first time BlackBerry has said selling the company is on the table. It comes after a report last week that the board has been thinking about the possibility of taking BlackBerry private as sales continue to slump. If it can be privatized the company would be out of the regular spotlight of having to issue quarterly financial results including details of sales. The next report is due Sept. 27.

With the decision board member Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial and the largest BlackBerry [TSX: BB] shareholder has resigned due to potential conflicts of interest. Should the company be sold Fairfax could gain — it could also be one of the bidders.

 
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The special committee includes board chair Barbara Stymiest, CEO Thorsten Heins, Richard Lynn, Bert Nordberg and Timothy Dattels, who will be the committee chair.

“During the past year, management and the board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders,” Dattels said in a statement. 

“Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”

In a statement Heins said that “we continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition.

“As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network.”

JP Morgan Securities LLC has been hired to be the board’s financial advisor.

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