The Wall Street Journal claims Lenovo wants to bid for all of BlackBerry, which includes its faltering hardware unit, along with its security-focused service businesses and a string of hard-to value patents.
Lenovo has signed a non-disclosure deal to examine BlackBerry’s books, but Wall Street thinks that the regulatory obstacles for it buying all the company are too great.
Multiple sources close to the matter have told Reuters BlackBerry is in talks with Cisco, Google and SAP to flog all, or parts of itself. But the names are unlikely to want all of the company and will want to buy bits that mesh well with or expand their own businesses.
Lenovo, however, could be a starter to own and run the lot. Blackberry would give it a foot in the door to mobile. It also sits well with its business hardware business.
But such a deal might worry regulators in Ottawa and Washington.
Firstly it would give Lenovo a secure network that handles millions of confidential corporate and government emails every day.
The US has a problem with giving that sort of thing to the Chinese who it is convinced will spy on it before it has a chance to spy on its own citizens.
In fact word on the street is that if Blackberry is sold to anyone, that part of the business will have to go to a North American entity.
Blackberry’s less contentious handset business, however, could be shopped to an Asian device maker and no one would care that much.
The Canadian government might step in to veto any foreign takeover of a Canadian asset or company if it deems such a deal would not bring a “net benefit” to the country, or if it believes a deal might pose a threat to national security.
Only last week, Canada blocked an Egyptian telecommunication entrepreneur’s bid to acquire the Allstream fibre optic network owned by Manitoba Telecom, claiming that it had national security concerns.
It is fairly likely that Industry Minister James Moore would have a heart attack over Lenovo’s interest in BlackBerry.
In an interview at the World Economic Forum, Lenovo Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming told Bloomberg the company would bid for BlackBerry.