ROB GILLIES | AP
TORONTO (AP) — BlackBerry has agreed to sell itself for $4.7 billion to a group led by largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
BlackBerry said Monday that a letter of intent has been signed and its shareholders will receive $9 in cash for each share.
Fairfax head Prem Watsa is a former board member who owns 10 percent of BlackBerry. Watsa stepped down when BlackBerry announced it was considering a sale last month.
Watsa is one of Canada’s best-known value investors and the billionaire founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. He has been compared to Warren Buffett because of his investing approach. BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis recruited Watsa to join the company’s board when Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped aside as its co-CEOs in January, 2012.
Trading of the company’s stock was halted ahead of the news. BlackBerry shares plunged after the company announced Friday a loss of nearly $1 billion and layoffs of 4,500 workers.
The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, was once the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other consumers before Apple’s iPhone debuted in 2007.
“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry its customers, carriers and employees,” Watsa said in a statement. “We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company.
BlackBerry said its board of directors approved the terms of the letter of intent. The statement said BlackBerry and Fairfax will negotiate and execute a definitive transaction agreement by Nov. 4.