BlackBerry cancels results call, following $4.7B Fairfax deal – Mobile World Live

BlackBerry cancels results call, following $4.7B Fairfax deal

26 SEP 2013

Troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry cancelled a conference call scheduled for this Friday, “in light of the letter of intent agreement between BlackBerry and Fairfax Financial”.

The company is set to publish its quarterly results on Friday morning, with a call originally scheduled shortly afterward. However, it now said it will “publish further details regarding its second quarter results in the Management Discussion and Analysis and consolidated financial statements, to be filed next week”.

Earlier this week, BlackBerry announced a $4.7 billion deal that would see it bought out and taken private by a group led by Fairfax Financial, although this is only at the “letter of intent” stage and BlackBerry could still shop around – although, equally Fairfax will also be undergoing due diligence.

This came after it was revealed that BlackBerry is set to report a net loss of $950 million to $995 million, due largely to an inventory write-down following poor sales of its BlackBerry Z10 smartphone – the device intended to spearhead its recovery.

The company is also anticipating sales of around $1.6 billion, almost halved from the prior sequential quarter.

Ratings agency Fitch said this week that while it expects the Fairfax bid to be “reasonably managed”, it “could” take negative ratings action if the deal is done “in a manner that would significantly increase financial leverage, decrease holding company cash or deplete insurance subsidiary capital”.

It also noted that it would view as negative a transaction that “resulted in a concentrated investment of Fairfax’s capital”.

Fitch noted that the $4.7 billion price tag is “very large compared to Fairfax’s reported total assets of $36.1 billion and shareholders’ equity of $8.6 billion as of 30 June 2013”.

Separately, AllThingsD said that T-Mobile USA is planning to cut its BlackBerry inventory, presumably reflecting variable demand from consumers.

Devices will still be sold in stores, but rather than keeping stock on premises orders will be fulfilled centrally – although this will mean that potential buyers will not be able to walk out of a shop with their new smartphone.

The report said that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are not planning any changes.

As part of a restructure that will see 40 per cent of its workforce cut, BlackBerry is looking to focus its efforts on enterprise and prosumer customers, meaning its consumer retail presence will diminish over time anyway.

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Steve Costello

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