BlackBerry's bid to find buyer fails; chief executive Heins out

Summary:The beleaguered phone maker is waving goodbye to its chief executive and senior directors as the company's bid to find a buyer fails.

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Image: CNET

BlackBerry is resorting to "plan B" in efforts to keep its head above choppy market waters.

The beleaguered smartphone maker is pulling the plug on finding a buyer amid financial downturn, and will replace its chief executive Thorsten Heins, and other senior directors.

Months after trying to find a buyer for the company, investment firm Fairfax Financial, which put forward its intent to buy the firm for $4.7 billion , had until Monday to examine the company's books. 

In a statement before Monday market opening, Fairfax confirmed it had concluded looking for "strategic alternatives," which included, among other things, finding a suitable buyer for the company.

Since announcing its intentions for a buyer, a bevy of Silicon Valley giants have reportedly looked into the company to discuss its future,  not limited to Facebook , and  chip-making giant Qualcomm  and private investment firm Cerberus.

The private investment firm said it will attempt to raise about $1 billion by selling convertible notes in a bid to stabilize the company's dwindling cash position.

It comes not long after BlackBerry's fiscal second quarter results, which saw the company lose close to $1 billion in losses during the three-month period, ending August 31. BlackBerry also burned through about $500 million of its cash reserves. 

John Chen, who formerly served as chairman and chief executive of enterprise technology firm Sybase, will replace Heins once the deal has closed as interim chief executive. Chen will also serve as executive chair of BlackBerry's board.

Meanwhile, Fairfax chief executive Prem Watsa will be appointed lead director, and chair of the company's compensation committee.

Closing of the deal is subject to conditions, including approval from the Toronto stock exchange.

"Today's announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors," said BlackBerry board chairperson Barbara Stymiest in prepared remarks. "This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position."

The news follows an earlier report from The Globe and Mail, citing sources familiar with the matter.

As of pre-market trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York, shares in BlackBerry ($BBRY) have tanked by more than 21 percent. Shares were halted for a few minutes before market open.

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$BBRY before market opening on Monday. Image: Google Finance

Topics: BlackBerry

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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