BlackBerry Explores Possible Sale, Joint Venture

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) said Monday it has formed a special board committee to explore strategic alternatives that could help accelerate the deployment of BlackBerry 10.

Shares jumped 7.6% to $10.50 in pre-market trading. As of Friday’s close, the stock has slipped about 18% so far this year.

BlackBerry, which once led the smartphone industry, has lost significant market share to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Samsung and other competitors. According to data released last week by research firm IDC, BlackBerry’s overall market share has fallen from about 50% in 2009 to less than 3%.

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Last week, reports surfaced that BlackBerry was open to taking the company private amid a struggle to gain traction with its latest devices.

The Canadian smartphone maker said the committee will explore all options, such as a sale of the company, joint ventures or partnerships. The special committee includes Chairwoman Barbara Stymiest and Chief Executive Thorsten Heins.

Timothy Dattels, who is serving as chairman of the special committee, said in a statement that “now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives” given the “evolving industry and competitive landscape.”

BlackBerry continues to believe its latest mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10, provides long-term opportunities, Heins noted.

The company said J.P. Morgan Securities will serve as financial adviser to BlackBerry, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Torys LLP will act as legal advisers.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry announced that Prem Watsa, the CEO of its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, chose to resign from the company’s board “due to potential conflicts that may arise during the process.”

“I continue to be a strong supporter of the Company, the Board and Management as they move forward during this process, and Fairfax Financial has no current intention of selling its shares,” Watsa said.