Lenovo may bid to acquire RIM in smartphone boost: Report

Lenovo may bid to acquire RIM in smartphone boost: Report

Summary: PC making giant Lenovo may be mulling a bid to acquire the BlackBerry maker. But the Canadian government would likely have to approve any sale of the company--especially if it's being sold to the Chinese, considering recent US worries.

TOPICS: BlackBerry, Lenovo

PC manufacturing giant Lenovo may be mulling a bid for Research In Motion (RIM) as part of efforts to bolster its own smartphone unit.

Lenovo's K800 smartphone. (Credit: CNET)

According to a report by Bloomberg, the PC maker--currently ranked second only to HP according to latest IDC figures--is "assessing potential acquisition targets" and strategic alliances as it seeks to expand its post-PC business.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lenovo's Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming said that the company was "looking at all opportunities," adding: "We'll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders."

He said that the PC maker has a team working on possible acquisitions, and that dialog between Lenovo and RIM had been open. However, Ming declined to comment on whether a decision had been made to bid for the smartphone maker.

Lenovo already has a range of Android-based smartphones out on the market, with plans to dish out a Windows Phone 8 handset, as revealed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show 2013.

If RIM does end up licensing out the BlackBerry 10 platform, as suggested in recent days, it would be a welcome boon to RIM's investor and shareholder concerns, but also to Lenovo as it spreads its weight across a number of platforms.

But, exactly how the China-based company would work its way into buying the company flags up a whole barrel load of concern, considering a recent report by the US House Intelligence Committee that  the Chinese government has Huawei and ZTE under the thumb. Both companies deny that they are spying for the Chinese or engaged in espionage.

For a Chinese company to buy out a maker of enterprise-grade security enabled smartphones, despite the recent push by governments to Apple products, would be interesting, to say the least.

The Canadian government hinted in recent days that it would prefer RIM to remain a Canadian company, but could not rule out that any sale of the firm would not have to go through the country's regulators, due to the sheer size of the company.

A RIM spokesperson told ZDNet in an emailed statement that RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins made it very clear that the company is focused on the delivery of BlackBerry 10, set for a global launch on January 30. On the company's most recent results conference call on December 20, RIM continued to examine all available options to "create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders."

The spokesperson noted that the smartphone maker does not have anything new to report on its Strategic Review at this time.

ZDNet will be at the BlackBerry 10 launch, with coverage from New York and London.

Topics: BlackBerry, Lenovo

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  • Not going to happpen

    Even though Canada is saddled with a Conservative government that is lax about foreign takeovers, a Chinese purchase of the RIM hardware is extremely unlikely in my opinion.
    For one thing, there are better marriage partners for RIM than Lenovo. For another, it play badly politically. RIM still serves a big part of the U.S. Government and the Canadian government is not want to piss off the American government.
    Plus, I think the BB10 is good technology and will eventually pick up market share ... It will take a few quarters to start seeing and I am not predicting miracles, and the stock will have ups and downs between now and then, but I think it is realistic to eventually see RIM trading in the $20 range, so I do not believe, at that price, that Lenovo will be the buyer.
    • I agree.

      I think that's why Stephen Harper send this message about foreign takeovers especially from China.

      Arm A. Geddon
  • Nooooooo!

    Please say it ain't so. I recently bought a Playbook because the Lenovo IdeaTab, I had bought a month prior, died after only 31 days. The quality of Blackberry will be severly reduced if they sell to Lenovo, IMHO that is.
    BTW I am very happy with the Playbook especially at the price I got it for!
    • one case not equal to all

      The product quality is the live of a company. Lenovo ranks the second largest PC manufaturer and this indicate that it can produce good products accepted by the market.

      I do not see any concerns here are reasonable. If it is politics, it is politics. politics only means it serves only a group of politicians, not the country or the public.
  • Just partner

    Just partner with RIM. License their BB10 OS for use, don't buy the company.
    Susan Antony
  • It'll Never Happen

    There have already been a couple of high profile Chinese buyouts of Canadian companies that the public hasn't like. People won't stand for the loss of RIM. The Conservatives would be in severe trouble if they didn't find a way of unravelling such a deal.
    • Are you kidding - of course it'll happen

      @rsavage: If RIM decides to sell to Lenovo, those greedhead Conservatives won't lift a finger to stop it - it didn't for the cases you mention.
      Marc Erickson
  • Yankee paranoia anyone?

    How is it that Yankee CEOs outsource so much to China without penalty yet if a Canadian company such as RIM is even looked at by the Chinese Yanks get their shorts in a knot!
    RIM is an excellent technology company, its products are of the highest quality and engineering if YankeeLand is concerned about the possibility of a Chinese acquisition then ante up dollars to see RIM thru this present dull period. Your northern neighbours are the best you'll ever have.... support their enterprises and you're BOUND to benefit in the long run.
  • A Bigger Picture

    Imagine, you're an average American citizen...NOT in love with your government, but keen on personal freedom! Now, how many of you are going to buy a phone that's been designed and built in Communist CHINA and believe that everything you say and hear isn't being recorded not only by the NSA, but the MSS?
  • Lenovo is not that stupid

    Lenovo appears to be a well-managed company. I can't believe they would be stupid enough to do this. There is almost zero upside and a lot of risks. Far better to do what their CEO said, wait it out a while and jump into the cellular device market if and when they see opportunity.
  • Getting ready for a 3 Way Business Split - Device, OS and Cloud

    Getting ready to split into three businesses I think. Device, OS and Cloud.

    Might Sell the Device unit, License the OS and be a Cloud provider.
  • Screwed by the bourse

    RIM is yet another company that would have been perfectly able to survive, thrive and innovate when it would not have been listed on a stock exchange. Capitalism only sometimes work. The Germans seem to be the only real powerhouse that got it. They have a mittestand. Going public means thinking short time not being able to map out a long time strategy. Steve Jobs knew it, he snubbed investors. Without the constant negative attention RIM would have lost just a fraction of it's shine.