BlackBerry Founders Back Away From Takeover Plan

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In a filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Christmas Eve, BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY) co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin have ended their effort to take over the company. The co-founders had agreed in October to join together to explore the possibility of making an offer for BlackBerry. The two men owned about 8% of the company’s shares.

Not only did they terminate the agreement, but Lazaridis said that he sold some 3.5 million shares on the open market on December 23 and 24 for an average price of $7.63 per share. Lazaridis now owns less than 5% of the company’s outstanding stock.

The reason to end the pursuit of BlackBerry is pretty clear, though unstated in the SEC filing. Dumping the company’s handset business on Foxconn leaves BlackBerry’s patents and its services business, which combined are probably not going to lead to a rejuvenation of the company. The competition is stiff, with many big, established players.

The best BlackBerry can hope for is that CEO John Chen will be able to persuade one of the larger players to acquire its messaging system and its software development operations to support the handsets that Foxconn will build.

Shares of BlackBerry were trading down nearly 2% in Thursday’s premarket, at $7.64 in a 52-week range of $5.44 to $18.32.

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