Monday, 23 September 2013

Blackberry sells today. 4.7 Billion Dollars. OMG.

So Wow, they were able to sell Blackberry..for a 9 dollar a share price bringing in 4.7 billion us dollars. Extraordinary.

The buyer is Fairfax financial, a Canadian Insurance fund (Blackberry is Canadian too) who were also Blackberry's largest shareholder. Blackberry was, Canada's greatest star.

It has come after a weekend of speculation, notably by the excellent UK 'Telegraph', when Blackberry announced losses of almost 1 billion usd in Q2 and planned to slash 4,500 jobs with shares slumping by -24% on Friday last. 

Shares were trading at circa 8 dollars and I remember them at 138 dollars. 

It had officially put itself up for sale last month having hired PWC to help. 

Amazon and Microsoft had considered buying it previously but Microsoft's Nokia deal put paid to that. The BBM (Blackberry messaging service) is the golden egg with 60 million users although the once dominant company has really struggled against Apple, HTC and Samsung since 2007. 

Blackberry once controlled half of the US market (!), now that's under 3%.

The BBM service had one great advantage - as London rioters and drug dealers knew - it was hard to intercept. Hence it became popular with drug sellers and became known as 'Crackberry'.

It only shipped 2.7m of its latest Z10 phones out of a planned 6.8m although it sold 5.9m smartphones in Q2, well below expectations. Apple, for example, sold 37m and the Iphone 5S sold out online.... in 5 minutes.

Blackberry had slashed phone prices so effectively, they couldn't give them away. Its losses reflected a big write-down on this stock of unsold phones.

The story of the downfall of Blackberry (if you call a sale of billions a downfall) is that they stuck with a corporate market and a keyboard, largely ignoring connectivity to the internet as having value. When they realised their mistake, it was too little, too late.

Keyboards had their day, internet connectivity was king and the corporate market became a personal market. Executives choose their own phone for business and personal use, rather than a company bought phone.

It's a sad story in one way but ultimately a good story in that they've done well to attain a good price now. Or lucky to have a shareholder like Fairfax, prepared to protect their investment and obviously being cash-rich enough to do so.

Still. A once dominant brand like Nokia, bit the dust. Or has it?