The board of BlackBerry is considering a private buyout of the company, saying that delisting would get shareholders off its back and give it freedom to move.
The rumour comes from Reuters, which reports "several sources" claiming that discussions have been had with various private equity companies, and enterprise computing houses, with a view to raising the $4.8bn it would cost to get the company formerly known as RIM off the stock exchange.
Silver Lake, the private equity firm currently involved in trying to take Dell private, is apparently in the frame. Reuters reckons that would line up BlackBerry for a collaborative deal with Dell on enterprise systems, but that seems little more than speculation.
In fact the whole going-private idea seems to be little more than a Power Point slide or two, even the newswire makes it clear that no deal is imminent and no sale is in progress, but BlackBerry - led by CEO Thorsten Heins - is getting so desperate that everything must be on the table at this point.
At its peak, in 2008, RIM was worth $84bn, which puts the current valuation of $4.8bn sharply into perspective. Given the way that the eminently competent BB10 devices have failed to set the world alight, we'd imagine that company board meetings see all manner of options discussed.
Licensing the BB10 OS is one, but it's hard to find someone who'll pay for BB10 when the nearly-as-good Android is all but free. BB10 hardware is nice, and we're expecting more devices this year, but "nice" isn't good enough to regain market dominance.
More interesting is BlackBerry's software and services side – recent efforts to extend BES to support Android and iOS, and opening BBM to those competing platforms too, have yet to bear, um... fruit. They do serve to remind us that BlackBerry is much more than a handset company, though, a distinction which could prove very important. ®