Lazaridis, Fregin mulling bid for BlackBerry

BlackBerry Ltd. co-founders Michael Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin have hired global investment firms Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to review their options on a possible joint bid for the troubled smart phone company.

Lazaridis, the former co-chief executive officer and Fregin, the ex-vice president of operation, were co-founders of the Waterloo, Ont.-based firm back in 1985 when it was known as Research in Motion.

BlackBerry shares rose one per cent to $8.20 in the stock market on Thursday after duo filed a document with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday indicating their intent. The shares were trading at $8.61 in the Toronto Stocks Exchange early Friday morning.

Last month, a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has offered to buy BlackBerry (TSE: BB) for $4.7 billion or $9 per share.

Lazaridis and Fregin, who together hold an eight per cent stake in BlackBerry worth around $338 million were “considering all the available options” including acquisition of the company “either by themselves of with interested investors,” the document said.

The document did not give any terms of the potential bid or the name any other investors, according to a report in

This developed as new broke out that BlackBerry is shuttering its Bedford, N.S. office and laying off approximately 350 workers in the facility. The customer service office will close in January 10, according to BlackBerry.

Some 35 employees from the facility will be offered the opportunity to work from home and remain in the company’s employ, the Canadian Broadcasting Company reported.

The then Progressive Conservative government lured BlackBerry to Nova Scotia in 2005. The company established its Bedford facility in 2008 and was offered $19 million in subsidies, including a $14 million in payroll rebates and $5 million for training and recruitment, by the province. In exchange, BlackBerry had to create 1,200 jobs over a course of five years.

BlackBerry got $11 million from the payroll rebate program over a period of six years which ended in February 2012.

The Nova Scotia government earlier announced it will hand BlackBerry $10 million over a five-year period to create a centre of excellence and guarantee at least 400 jobs in the province at an average annual salary of at least $60,000.

The CBC report said it is not known how much money BlackBerry received, but the company said it is paying back $2 million.

Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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