Research in Motion

Lenovo considers buying BlackBerry maker as an option

PC maker in talks with Research In Motion and its bankers, says Lenovo's chief financial officer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 4:56am

Lenovo Group is assessing potential acquisition targets and strategic alliances, including a deal with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, as the second-largest producer of personal computers tries to bolster its mobile-device business.

"We are looking at all opportunities - RIM and many others," chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming said in an interview at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. "We'll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders."

RIM began a review of its strategic options last year after losing market share to smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy, raising speculation that it could be a takeover target.

Beijing-based Lenovo, which bought International Business Machines Corp's PC unit in 2005, is considering acquisitions and adding new products as competition from tablets hampers profit growth.

"Long term, we are in a declining PC market," said Jean-Louis Lafayeedney, an analyst at JI Asia in Hong Kong. Still, Lenovo "can leverage the scale they have in PCs to develop the mobile internet side of the business".

The PC maker has a team working on possible acquisitions, Wong said. Lenovo has spoken to RIM and its bankers about various combinations or strategic ventures, he said. Wong declined to comment on when the company would make a decision on whether to bid for a mobile-device maker.

Wong said he would carefully consider valuations for all potential deals and noted that RIM's stock price has recently risen back into the double digits. RIM shares have gained 46 per cent this year to US$17.29, fuelled by optimism that its new BlackBerry 10 operating system will be successful.

RIM declined to comment on a possible Lenovo bid.

"We have no update on our strategic review at this time," said Nick Manning, a spokesman for the Ontario-based company.

Acquiring RIM would require approval from Canadian and US regulators because of the size of the transaction and the fact that the company operates secure mobile networks for government agencies.

Putting RIM under Chinese ownership also would raise security questions.

The company has been wary of widening its operations in China in the past.