Thorsten Heins, chief executive officer of BlackBerry, at the company's annual general meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, concedes that BlackBerry has a tough road ahead. Photo: Bloomberg
BlackBerry signalled on Tuesday that a licensing deal, or even an outright sale of the company, was still a possibility, pleasing shareholders still reeling from the disappointing debut for its new line of smartphones.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins, responding to a question about whether he was looking into strategic alternatives, said he is open to all options that create value for shareholders. He emphasised that the company has so far focused on creating value through the launch of its new devices powered by an all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
"This is a long-term transition for the company, but I can assure you that we're pushing very hard," Heins said at the company's annual shareholder meeting. "BlackBerry will pursue every opportunity to create value for shareholders."
His remarks that BlackBerry was also open to any and all licensing opportunities, sent shares higher.
John Goldsmith, deputy head of equities at Montrusco Bolton, which owns more than 1.5 million BlackBerry shares, believes that BlackBerry may well be pressed into striking such a deal.
"I think they're on a very short leash," said Goldsmith, referring to BlackBerry's management. "I wouldn't be surprised if within the next two quarters there is a definitive announcement with regard to other options that this company could be looking at whether that's putting itself for sale or some other option."
A bigger concern for investors, was the fact that it sold fewer-than-expected BlackBerry 10 devices in their first full quarter on the market, offering little evidence that it could quickly win back market share from Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy devices, and other phones powered by Google's Android operating system.
Even so, some investors believe many other companies would relish the prospect of getting their hands on the new platform.
"I can see why this guy is confident," said Ross Healy, a portfolio manager with MacNicol & Associates, whose clients own BlackBerry shares. "He is talking about partnerships and being open to talks and I don't think you say that unless you've really had a talk or two with interested parties - and that gives you some confidence."
At the meeting, held at BlackBerry's home base in Waterloo, Ontario, Heins conceded that BlackBerry has a tough road ahead as it attempts to turn around its fortunes, but he insisted it was on the right track.
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