BlackBerry Explores Partnerships, Joint Ventures, or Sale

In a press release today, BlackBerry's (NASDAQ: BBRY  )  Board of Directors said that a special committee has been put together to "explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment." The company said alternatives include a possible joint venture, strategic partnerships or alliances, or a sale of the company -- as well as other "possible transactions."

Timothy Dattels, Chairman of BlackBerry's Special Committee of the Board, said in a statement, "Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives."

BlackBerry Ltd. has been hammered by increased competition from its Apple and Android-based rivals. In January, BlackBerry unveiled new phones running a revamped operating system called BlackBerry 10 designed to better compete, but its market share continues to lag.

The special committee will include BlackBerry President and CEO Thorsten Heins. In the press release, Heins said, "We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition."

Today's announcement marks the second time Blackberry has said it has hired bankers to help weigh its options since Heins became CEO in early 2012.

With the formation of the special committee, Prem Watsa, the chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial -- the largest BlackBerry shareholder -- said that he will resign from the BlackBerry Board to avoid any potential conflicts that could come up during the process. Watsa said in the release, "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."

The company said that there was "no assurance" that the formation of the committee would result in a transaction, nor will the company discuss further information during the process unless BlackBerry's board has approved a transaction or ends the exploratory process. 

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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