BlackBerry investor Prem Watsa leaves board as review launched

A BlackBerry Q10 on display at the company's Annual and Special Meeting, in Waterloo, Ont., on July 9, 2013.
A BlackBerry Q10 on display at the company's Annual and Special Meeting, in Waterloo, Ont., on July 9, 2013. The Canadian Press

WATERLOO, Ont. – BlackBerry says its board has launched a formal review of its “strategic alternatives” – including the possibility of selling the smartphone company.

The company says the review could result in BlackBerry forming joint ventures, strategic partnerships or a sale of BlackBerry.

READ MORE: BlackBerry to weigh putting itself up for sale 

Prem Watsa, the head of Canadian insurance company Fairfax Financial and one of BlackBerry’s key shareholders, has resigned from the BlackBerry board due to potential conflicts of interest.

Watsa joined the board in early 2012 as part of attempts to revitalize the company, previously called Research In Motion, as its previous long-time co-CEOs stepped aside and installed Thorsten Heins as chief executive.

“I continue to be a strong supporter of the company, the board and management as they move forward during this process, and Fairfax Financial has no current intention of selling its shares,” Watsa said in a statement issued by BlackBerry.

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Shares of the company rose 11 cents, or 1.1 per cent, in pre-market trading to US$9.87 in New York.

The announcement comes amid unconfirmed reports that the Waterloo, Ont.-based company  may go private.

READ MORE: BlackBerry going private not a viable option, say experts

A going-private move would result in one or more investors buying out other BlackBerry shareholders and delisting the stock from public markets.

Heins said there are “compelling long-term opportunities” for the company’s new generation of products and has made progress in its transition.

“As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network,” Heins said in a statement.

The strategic review will be headed by Timothy Dattels, who said the time was right to explore its “strategic alternatives.”

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