BlackBerry has reached out to competitors and asked them for a "preliminary expression of interest" as soon as this week. The company is already holding talks with Cisco, Google and SAP, and wants to hear from Intel, LG and Samsung.
If BlackBerry is able to strike any sort of deal with these companies, it would be entirely separate from its possible sale to Fairfax Financial, reported Reuters.
In August, BlackBerry announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives in the face of poor smartphone sales. The alternatives include a sale, whether of the company as a whole or in pieces, to other firms. Fairfax Financial made an initial bid of $4.7 billion for BlackBerry on Sept. 23. The Fairfax bid is being supported by other private equity firms, though Fairfax hasn't said which. Fairfax is undergoing its due diligence at the moment and has said that it expects to close the deal as soon as Nov. 4.
The Fairfax bid, however, kickstarted interest in BlackBerry. On Oct. 2, Cerberus Capital Management, another private capital investment firm, expressed its own interest in BlackBerry. Specifically, Cerberus is looking to sign a confidentiality agreement with BlackBerry so it can more fully assess the company's potential. It wants access to BlackBerry's books so it can perform its own due diligence. Cerberus hasn't offered a price for the ailing smartphone maker, however.
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It's not clear what BlackBerry hopes to get from Cisco, Google, Intel, LG, Samsung and SAP. It's possible Cisco, Google and SAP could snap up BlackBerry's device management tools, including BES. Intel, LG and Samsung are more likely looking at patents and/or pieces of BackBerry's handset business.
BlackBerry did not comment on Reuters' story, but said, "The special committee, with the assistance of BlackBerry's independent financial and legal advisers, is conducting a robust and thorough review of strategic alternatives."
BlackBerry may be evaluating its alternatives, but that hasn't stopped it from moving forward with some portions of its business. Monday at the Gartner Symposium, the company introduced a new multi-platform, cloud-based enterprise mobility management (EMM) service that it says will help businesses secure and manage corporate and personal devices. The tool specifically targets companies with BYOD policies. The EMM service will let employees enjoy the content and apps they want, while maintaining the security requirements and productivity gains mandated by the company.
"BlackBerry is evolving. As the industry has adopted BYOD and mixed mobile environments, we've responded with our multi-platform EMM solution," said Stephen Bates, head of the Enterprise Business unit at BlackBerry. "The new cloud-based EMM solution will bring all the benefits of our on-premises offering, which is trusted by more businesses and governments around the world than any other enterprise mobility solution, to customers as a cloud service that lets them easily manage BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices more cost efficiently than ever before."
The EMM product is currently in closed beta testing. The service will be available as a single monthly subscription that covers both the license and technical support. BlackBerry said the EMM tool should be available to all customers by the end of November.