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BlackBerry has agreed to a $4.7 billion buyout by a consortium of investors led by Fairfax. Upon purchasing it, the group plans to take the struggling Canadian smartphone maker private. Pending due diligence that's expected to be completed by November 4th, the deal would see BlackBerry shareholders each receiving $9 per share in cash.
Fairfax Chairman and CEO, Prem Wasta, the so-called Canadian Warren Buffet, is leading a group of unnamed Canadian investors on a mission to save Blackberry. In a statement, he said, "we believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees". He added, "we can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world."
Based in Waterloo, the smartphone maker once dominated markets with its secure on-your-hip-email technology. These fresh developments come after Blackberry has seen its fortunes slump over the last few years, with stock prices hitting all time lows. The company has lost a large chunk of its users to Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Its attempts to recover market share with the latest Blackberry 10 OS did not work out well either, with the company expecting a $1 billion loss from unsold Blackberry 10 devices in its last quarter.
Since 2011, there's been a sharp drop in the growth of Blackberry users, with most fans moving over to Apple's iPhone for its more efficient performance, appealing visual form and larger screen. Blackberry held fort in business circles for a while by offering strong features and services to enterprises. However, large touch screen phones led by Android and Apple broke through the wall in 2012, causing the company its biggest slump ever. This news comes only a day after Apple announced that it had sold 9 million iPhones during its launch weekend.