BlackBerry, which can’t give away its smartphones, got an unsolicited $4.7 billion takeover bid from its largest shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Or did it?
As I noted in my story in The Fiscal Times, there is less than this deal than meets the eye. From the story:
Under the terms of the agreement, BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) will be allowed “to actively solicit, receive, evaluate and potentially enter into negotiations with parties that offer alternative proposals,” the company said in a statement. In other words, it can still go shop for a better offer until Nov. 4. If BlackBerry finds a better deal, it would have to pay Fairfax 30 cents a share, or more than $150 million. The termination fee would rise to 50 cents a share, or more than $260 million, if BlackBerry balks once a definitive agreement is signed.
Selling or licensing patents has been the go-to move for struggling technology companies for years. Eastman Kodak, whose film documented the 20th century before the company went into a long decline, struck a $525 million deal with a slew of technology companies such as Google and Apple in 2012. The sale was for a fraction of the $2.6 billion the company had hoped to get. Microsoft acquired AOL’s patents for $1 billion in 2012, which helped bolster the media company’s balance sheet. Nortel, which is currently mired in bankruptcy, unloaded its patents for $4.5 billion in 2011 to a consortium of companies led by Apple.