An investor dubbed
The possible sale represents a huge decline in fortunes for BlackBerry. The handset, which allowed users to access email, was launched in 1999 and became so ubiquitous - and seen as addictive - that it was dubbed the 'crackberry'. But the company fell behind smartphone rivals led by Apple's iPhone and in March last year said it would quit the consumer market to focus on corporate clients.
It carried out a high-profile launch of two new handsets at the start of the year and unveiled the touchscreen Z30 last week in an effort to catch up with Apple, Samsung and other smartphone makers.
But the new handsets failed to win over critics and sales were far below what the firm was hoping for. Its market share in the first quarter of this year was 2.9%, according to analysts, compared with 41% in 2007. The deal - if it goes ahead - would take BlackBerry private, removing it from the glare of a stock market listing.
Its shares are listed on the US Nasdaq exchange and have fallen from a high of
The offer comes days after BlackBerry stunned
Indian-born Watsa stepped down from the board of BlackBerry last month when the company put itself up for sale, prompting speculation that he would attempt to table an offer through his Fairfax investment company. Last night he said that the transaction would "open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, it's consumers, carriers and employees".
It comes less than a month after
But the BlackBerry deal is a long way from being completed - and the company could yet find a higher offer as it has kept the door open to rival bids. It has given Fairfax two months to vet financial statements.
Analysts were sceptical about BlackBerry's efforts to turn itself around even before its admission on Friday that its revenues would be
Despite its financial woes, it emerged yesterday that BlackBerry bosses had bought a private jet in July - a secondhand Bombardier Global Express worth more than
Even the 40% job cuts were not enough to placate some analysts.
Jeffrey listed the litany of BlackBerry's ills in a note to clients last week, and particularly noted BlackBerry's difficulties thus far in finding a suitor.
Apple's record sales page 28 =
Price of RIM shares at their height in
has stumbled, trading at about
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