BlackBerry to close Bedford office and cut 350 jobs
Waterloo, Ont.-based tech company to repay $2M to Nova Scotia
BlackBerry is shutting down its Bedford, N.S., office, affecting at least 350 workers as part of the beleaguered Ontario-based tech company's global layoffs.
BlackBerry says its Bedford, N.S., office, which offers customer service, will close Jan. 10.
The company says 35 employees will be offered positions to work at home and remain with the company.
The company was lured to Nova Scotia in 2005 by a previous Progressive Conservative government.The Bedford location opened on Nov. 25, 2008.
The province offered $19 million in subsidies, including $14 million in payroll rebates and $5 million for training and recruitment. The company was told it had to create 1,200 jobs over five years to get the full rebate.
BlackBerry drew almost $11 million from the payroll rebate program over a six-year period ending in February 2012, Nova Scotia Business Inc. has said.
The Nova Scotia government announced it would give BlackBerry $10 million over five years to create a Centre of Excellence and guarantee at least 400 jobs in the province at an average salary of at least $60,000 a year.
It's not known exactly how much of that money the company has received, but BlackBerry said Thursday it is paying back a $2 million contribution.
Government back and forth
“I’m confident the current government knew this was coming and would have been prepared for this day,” said MLA Kelly Regan.
Regan will represent Bedford in the Nova Scotia legislature when the Liberal candidate is once again sworn in.
Premier-designate Stephen McNeil said he understands the outgoing government might be offering services for the laid-off workers.
But when questioned, a spokesperson from Darrell Dexter’s office said, "I suggest you get in touch with someone from the premier-elect's communication team.
"They are still the government and I would have expected them to act accordingly, like grownups, right?” said Regan.
"The fact of the matter is if they don't do what they're supposed to do, we will."
Regan said she has been making calls and sending emails to existing high-tech firms in the area to see if they might have jobs available for the ousted BlackBerry employees.
Local marketing company SimplyCast tweeted it has job openings.
More cuts coming
The Nova Scotia layoffs are the latest in a string of cost-cutting measures within BlackBerry.
The struggling company, based in Waterloo, announced in September it is cutting 4,500 employees across its global operations.
The losses will affect 40 per cent of its staff, leaving about 7,000 employees.
On Tuesday, BlackBerry said it's laying off 300 people in its Waterloo office.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has made an offer to buy BlackBerry for $4.7 billion, although there are doubts the deal will go through.
Looking for rival bids
BlackBerry is known to be soliciting rival bids in the meantime, with companies such as SAP AG, Cisco Systems and Samsung Electronics reported to have approached its advisers.
However, the tech titans are likely interested only in pieces of the company, Bloomberg reported, adding that BlackBerry company management is becoming more open to a breakup of the company.
The federal government’s move to quash a deal by Egyptian firm Accelero to take over MTS-Allstream may have bidders thinking twice about investing in Canada.
The government nixed the deal over "national security concerns" but gave no further explanation.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement said Oct. 8 that national security would play a role in assessing offers for BlackBerry as well.
With files from The Canadian Press