It is starting to look like any potential bidders lining up to buy BlackBerry will want to carve the outfit up and serve it as a small trifle.
Reuters reported that interest in the company is luke-warm and those who are interested only want bits of the Canadian smartphone maker rather than the whole company.
Private equity firms want BlackBerry’s operating system and the patents around its keyboard and only a Canadian pension fund, Fairfax Financial Holdings, is thinking of teaming up with an investor to buy the whole company, which is worth a little more than $5 billion.
Fairfax is BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder and wants to take the smartphone maker private so that it can play with it in the dark without having to worry about pesky shareholders.
It has a 10 percent stake, and its chairman and chief executive, Prem Watsa, has quit BlackBerry’s board already to avoid any conflict of interest as the company looks at the sale.
Only a few other private equity firms have asked to see the company’s books, even if the sale process is expected to start in a few weeks.
BlackBerry’s assets include a good services business that powers its security-focused messaging system, That is worth $3 billion to $4.5 billion. Blackberry has a ton of patents that could be worth $2 billion to $3 billion. It also has $3.1 billion in cash and investments.
In fact the only thing that is worthless is the smartphone division, and it might cost $2 billion to shut the unit that makes them.