If John Chen’s message as the new CEO of BlackBerry Ltd.(NASDAQ: BBRY) says anything at all, it is that he is willing to shake up everything down to the foundation of every office inside the struggling empire. To prove a point, Blackberry now has said that is planning to divest the majority of its real estate holdings in Canada.
There may be a realistic issue here, one that is not fun to question – who on earth will buy it? Between the spiral of BlackBerry and the death spiral last decade of Nortel, new technology giants might not be the next property owners for the assets at stake. That being said, this looks like a sale and leaseback agreement, so perhaps a REIT can step in as a financial buyer.
BlackBerry did signal that it intends to strategically divest the majority of its commercial real estate portfolio through a combination of sale-leaseback and vacant asset sales. The properties to be offered for sale comprise over 3 million square feet of space.
BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chairman John Chen said, “BlackBerry remains committed to being headquartered in Waterloo and having a strong presence in Canada along with other global hubs. This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry’s financial flexibility, and will provide additional resources to support our operations as our business continues to evolve.”
BlackBerry said in the press release that it will not comment on the potential value of a sale. it also signaled that the company will disclose further information as required in connection with any definitive sale transaction.
As of March 2, 2013, Blackberry’s balance sheet value under “property, plant and equipment” was listed as $2.395 billion. So the question is how much of that is equipment versus lands and buildings. After a gain of 9.36% to a $9.93 close in New York, BlackBerry’s market cap is $5.15 billion.
It is obvious as to why BlackBerry would want to unload its buildings and dirt. It raises more cash. That being said, how many leasing companies want to have BlackBerry as their anchor tenant? This is one of those ambitions where getting to the outcome may be harder than it seems.