Will Facebook Buy BlackBerry?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Fed won't "taper" at the outcome of its two-day meeting tomorrow, so naturally stocks hit another all-time high today. This narrative is quite plausible. The S&P 500 and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) rose 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively, today.

Is Faceberry a possibility?
Is Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) interested in BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) ? It's an unlikely tie-up on the face of it, but The Wall Street Journal is reporting that BlackBerry executives flew to California last week to meet with representatives of the social networking company.

BlackBerry put itself on the chopping block back in August when it announced a radical restructuring that includes an exit from the consumer devices market and a 40% reduction in head count. Since then, the company has signed a letter of intent regarding a $9-per-share bid from a consortium led by Canadian insurer Fairfax Financial. The due diligence period for that proposed deal ends next week, with a Monday deadline for competing bids.

As the Journal notes, BlackBerry is not without some attractive assets:

The most attractive piece for a company like Facebook will most likely be BlackBerry's patents, which consist of security network technology and smartphone component patents, among others, and which analysts estimate to be worth between $1 and $3 billion.

However, while there has been speculation in the past that Facebook was interested in building its own handset, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repudiated the notion, calling it a "dumb strategy."

In fact, more than "security network technology or smartphone component patents," I would have thought that it's the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messaging service that might have presented some interest to Facebook.

Indeed, BlackBerry announced today that it has attracted 20 million BBM users on iPhone and Android devices, just one week into the launch of the service on those platforms, bringing the total number of users to 80 million. BBM for iPhone is currently the No. 2 free app in America. Separately, the BGR tech blog reported today that BlackBerry is planning on introducing ads to the BBM for iPhone/ Android services, which is certainly consistent with Facebook's monetization strategy.

Nevertheless, I think investors should consider that a Facebook bid for BlackBerry is an extremely low-probability outcome. I don't see any strategic imperative for Facebook to "own" a hardware platform, and BlackBerry's other assets aren't sufficiently complementary with Facebook's to justify a bid, either. My assessment is that these talks were simply preliminary/exploratory and that they will go exactly nowhere. At this stage, the only suitor that looks even remotely serious about its interest in BlackBerry is Fairfax Financial – and even that bid has its problems.

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  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2013, at 8:16 PM, HelpIsHere wrote:

    Another useless opinion. That makes 1,000 so far here.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2013, at 11:12 PM, cbglobal wrote:

    So Blackberry executives flew to Facebook for a meeting with their executives to just shoot the bull and discuss something they knew before hand will never happen.

    LOL !! You really think they all just like to just fly around for no reason? And Facebook execs are so bored with nothing to do, they decided to hang with Blackberry people for no reason?

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2013, at 12:26 AM, jhf678 wrote:

    You only fly over to sign a contract. So I assume that a deal is in the making.

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