BlackBerry, the struggling Canadian smartphone maker which maintains a research and development operation in the Triangle, said Monday its board has formed a special committee to explore strategic options and potentially sell itself.
The Canadian company’s stock jumped 5.7 percent to $10.32 in early trading Monday.
Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins will join fellow board members Barbara Stymiest, Richard Lynch and Bert Nordberg and Timothy Dattels on the committee, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said today in a statement.
Fairfax Financial CEO Prem Watsa, a director whose firm is BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, is stepping down from the board to avoid conflicts.
“Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives,” Dattels, who will serve as the committee’s chairman, said in the statement.
The announcement builds on a move last year when BlackBerry hired investment banks to advise the company on strategic alternatives. At the time, Heins said a sale wasn’t the “main direction” the company was considering.
The firm’s shares had risen Friday on reports that it might be warming up to the idea of someone taking it private.
BlackBerry has been hammered by increased competition from its Apple and Android-based rivals.
In January, BlackBerry unveiled new phones running a revamped operating system called BlackBerry 10 designed to better compete, but its market share continues to lag.
BlackBerry shares climbed 5.7 percent Friday after Reuters reported that the company is considering going private.
Heins and the board are coming around to the idea that going private would give them the leeway to fix problems out of the public view, Reuters reported, citing unidentified sources. While there is a change of tone on the board, no deal is imminent, according to the story.
The company, which released its new BlackBerry 10 lineup this year in a bid to win back market share, has suffered from lackluster demand and a fizzling stock rally. Last month, the price of its Z10 flagship touch-screen model was cut to $49.99 amid sluggish sales. The phone had originally gone on sale in the U.S. in March for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
The stock rose to $9.76 at the close in New York. Shares of the company have lost 18 percent this year.
Lisette Kwong, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry, declined to comment to Bloomberg on the report.
Before Heins became CEO in January 2012, the company held talks with private-equity firm Silver Lake Management LLC about possibly going private, a person familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News last year. The talks were preliminary and the two sides weren’t able to agree on a potential valuation, the person said.
Silver Lake has had no meetings with BlackBerry in the past year, a person familiar with past discussions said today.