BlackBerry to split into two companies, foraging for tastier fare for shareholders

Hopes to float IoT biz and keep infosec ops, then make a second pressing

Blackberry has decided to split into two companies.

The former mobile email monarch commenced a strategic review in May 2023, under the modest name "Project Imperium." At the time, CEO John Chen said the biz was "executing on a strong, well-resourced plan to deliver revenue and [annual recurring revenue] growth, as well as significant improvements in non-GAAP EPS and cashflow this fiscal year."

Chen said investors would like the results those effort produced, but added "we do not believe that this is fully reflected in the market's current valuation of the Company.

"Accordingly, the Board and management believe it is an appropriate time to initiate a comprehensive review of the Company's portfolio … to identify and evaluate opportunities to further enhance shareholder value."

After due deliberation, the board decided "separating the IoT and Cybersecurity business units into two independently operated entities is the optimal strategic direction for BlackBerry."

"The chief objective of the separation is to pursue a subsidiary initial public offering for the IoT business, the market leader for high-performance, safety-critical foundational software in automotive and other verticals, with a launch targeted in the first half of the next fiscal year," states Blackberry's announcement of the split.

Investors were told a standalone, listed, IoT subsidiary "will enable shareholders to more clearly evaluate the performance and future potential of BlackBerry's principal businesses on a standalone basis, while allowing each business to pursue its own distinct strategy and capital allocation policy."

No info was offered regarding when BlackBerry expects to split. And the review of its ops is ongoing.

Investors appear to have quite liked the plan. BlackBerry shares opened on Wednesday at $4.38, drifted to $4.24, then spiked to $4.50 in after-the-bell trading.

BlackBerry dominated mobile handsets in the early 2000s before the iPhone caught it off guard and made its email-centric devices look quaint.

After years of failed attempts to reinvigorate its handset business, management decided its embedded QNX OS, and messaging code developed for its phones, could turn into a solid IoT business. Also that deals like the $1.4 billion acquisition of Cylance could turn it into a security contender.

Clearly that plan hasn't worked as well as hoped, and BlackBerry now joins the likes of Alibaba, IBM, and HP by splitting itself in search of shareholder value. ®

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