Ailing Canadian smartphone giant BlackBerry has agreed, in principal, to sell the company to a consortium of buyers led by private equity firm Fairfax Financial.
The agreement values the company formerly known as Research in Motion at $4.7 billion (£2.93 billion) and could be sewn up by November 5th once due diligence takes place.
BlackBerry has signed whats known as a ‘letter of initial agreement’ which kick starts the sale process. Once the deal is completed, BlackBerry will once again be a private company and Fairfax will cash-out current shareholders at $9 a share, according to the official announcement on Monday.
During the period of due diligence, BlackBerry remains able to enter into negotiations with other companies that may present it with a better deal.
Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, said: “We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”
It is not yet certain which members of the BlackBerry hierarchy, namely CEO Thorsten Heins, will remain at the helm.
Monday’s announcement follows weeks, nay months, of speculation that the iconic firm could soon be sold off.
The company admitted last month it was actively seeking out buyers and on Friday announced it was cutting 4,500 jobs (around 40 per cent of its workforce) around the globe.
Today’s announcement signals the end of an era for fans of the company’s qwerty-toting smartphones, but not necessarily the death many were predicting. What Fairfax intends to do with the company remains to be seen.