Speculation is mounting that Microsoft may be planning a dramatic US$28 billion bid for BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM). Various analysts have suggested that RIM’s falling stock price could make it an attractive target for Microsoft, which would not need to fall back on the precarious credit markets to make a deal. “RIM is a massive strategic fit” for Microsoft, said Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek, reports Reuters. “I’m fairly certain they have a standing offer to buy them at US$50 (a share).” According to Reuters, RIM is currently trading at around US$60 a share – valuing the company at around US$34 billion – but well below the US$148 per share mark that RIM was trading at on the Nasdaq just four months ago, before the financial crisis escalated. The report says that RIM would need to decline to at least US$40 to make an offer of US$50 a premium bid. Such a deal would value the company at US$28 billion. As well as the crisis in the world’s financial markets, RIM’s share price has also been hit over fears of high production costs associated with its latest handsets.

Microsoft is believed to be interested in a deal in order to take control of RIM’s roughly 20 million BlackBerry subscribers, which would allow it to better compete with fierce rivals Google and Apple in the smartphone market. Microsoft is also understood to have the funds to make a deal without debt financing. According to Reuters, the company had US$23.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as of June 30.