BlackBerry stock up 6% on Movirtu acquisition

BlackBerry Ltd. has bought Movirtu Ltd., which makes a virtual SIM card that allows mobile customers to have more than one phone number on a single device.

Small firm makes SIM card that allows more than one number on a single cellphone

BlackBerry CEO John Chen shows off the new Passport phone at the company's annual meeting June 19. It will come out later this month. Today, BlackBerry bought Movirtu, which allows two numbers on a single phone. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

BlackBerry Ltd. has bought Movirtu Ltd., which makes a virtual SIM card that allows mobile customers to have more than one phone number on a single device.

BlackBerry  was ahead 69 cents or six per cent to $11.92 on the announcement Thursday, which builds on its plan to target business users.

As BlackBerry’s share of the smartphone market has diminished, CEO John Chen has refocused the Waterloo, Ont.-based company to develop services for businesses and governments.

The Movirtu technology lets employees who use one phone for work and home switch easily between business and personal profiles with billing clearly separated, BlackBerry said in a statement today.

BlackBerry plans to start offering the phone-splitting software to customers early next year, with iOS, Windows and Android versions.

No terms of the deal were released.

Founded in 2008 in London, Ont, Movirtu is run by CEO Carsten Brinkschulte and has 22 employees.

In a blog posting today, Brinkschulte said working with BlackBerry gives his company direct connections to hundreds of mobile operators around the world.

"Leveraging these existing connections would be the best way to offer quick and reliable deployment of the Movirtu Virtual SIM solution with minimal effort for the operator. Additionally, BlackBerry will help bring the solution to market through their wide network of mobile operators," Brinkschulte said.

BlackBerry's first new handheld devices to be released under Chen's leadership, an old-style BlackBerry dubbed the Classic and a new format called the Passport, are expected this month. The company is planning invitation-only events on Sept. 24 in Toronto, London and Dubai, but hasn't provided details.

Chen said in August that BlackBerry had completed reductions to its workforce that began three years earlier and that it was preparing for modest hiring and small acquisitions.​