BlackBerry rallies on AT&T launch, takeover hopes
By Euan Rocha, ReutersTORONTO -- BlackBerry shares rose 14 percent on Monday, fueled by takeover speculation and news that AT&T Inc will start selling the new BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen smartphone in the United States on March 22.
March 13, 2013, 1:09 pm TWN
The speculation was sparked by a comment from the head of China's Lenovo Group Ltd, who told a French newspaper on Monday that the personal computer maker might consider an acquisition of Canada's BlackBerry at some point in the future.
“External growth remains a question of opportunities,” said Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo's CEO.
“As for BlackBerry, the file could eventually make sense, but I must first analyze the market and understand the exact weight of this company,” he said in response to a question about whether Lenovo would make a move on the smartphone maker.
BlackBerry, a one-time smartphone pioneer, has bled market share to Apple Inc.'s iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.'s Galaxy line and other devices powered by Google's market-leading Android operating system.
In a make-or-break move to regain market share and return to profit, BlackBerry introduced the new smartphone to much fanfare in January, and said it was abandoning its old name, Research In Motion, and renaming itself BlackBerry.
Analysts however poured cold water on the speculation that the Chinese technology giant would make a move on BlackBerry.
“We believe a takeout of BlackBerry is unlikely, especially in the near term, nor is our investment thesis or 'outperform' rating predicated on such an event,” said Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um, in a note to clients.
A spokesman for Lenovo in Canada also downplayed the CEO's comment, saying, “in no way was this an indication of activity or strategic direction.”
Another Lenovo executive had made a similar comment when asked about BlackBerry in January. That remark had also sparked a rally in BlackBerry shares, but Lenovo said at the time that the executive was only speaking broadly about M&A strategy.
Analysts are also skeptical that the Canadian government, which in 2010 blocked mining giant BHP Billiton's US$39 billion bid for Potash Corp., will easily approve a Chinese acquisition of BlackBerry.