RIM shares rise on report of Lenovo takeover interest
Shares in Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion rose as much as six per cent Thursday as markets reacted to a report that Chinese PC maker Lenovo would be interested in acquiring the BlackBerry maker.
RIM shares closed up 52 cents, or three per cent, at $17.82 on heavy volume lon the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The report, by Bloomberg, quoted Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as having discussed possible partnerships or strategic ventures.
"We are looking at all opportunities — RIM and many others," he said.
"We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders."
Lenovo acquired the PC unit of IBM in 2005 to become the world's second-largest computer manufacturer.
An outright takeover would face considerable hurdles.
BlackBerries are used by the U.S. military, which raises questions about the willingness of the Americans to have RIM’s technology come under Chinese ownership.
Short sellers hold nearly 30%
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has also said he is reluctant to expand in China, expressing concerns about protecting the security of its networks.
The Canadian government has said in the past it would prefer that RIM remain a Canadian company and would conduct any bid to a review to determine if it was of "net benefit" to Canada.
Just yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to comment on the subject of a possible review of a takeover of the company.
RIM, which has been conducting a strategic review of its options, did not comment on the report. It has said in the past that the review has not ruled out being acquired, but was not the leading option.
An analyst says RIM will likely wait to see how well its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones sell before considering any partnerships or sale of its assets.
Telecom analyst Troy Crandall says how well RIM does with BlackBerry 10 won't be clear until after the back-to-school season next fall.
Crandall, of Montreal-based MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, says as of Dec. 31 almost 30 per cent of RIM's shares were held by short-sellers who are betting against the success of BB10, which is being unveiled next Wednesday.
RIM's shares have risen dramatically in recent weeks with analysts less pessimistic about RIM and giving the new operating system and smartphones some chance of success.