Who Will Join Prem Watsa’s Private Equity BlackBerry Buyout?

Published on August 12, 2013
by John Paczkowski

RIM_I_Want_To_BelieveWhen BlackBerry’s leadership said Monday that it was exploring a potential sale of the company it also announced that its largest shareholder, Prem Watsa, the chairman and chief of Fairfax Financial, had resigned from its board. The reason? ‚ÄúPotential conflicts.”

One in particular.

Watsa himself is interested in taking BlackBerry private. Sources familiar with the matter tell AllThingsD that Watsa, whose firm holds a 9.9 percent stake in BlackBerry, has recently been reaching out to private equity firms, gauging their interest in participating in a buyout of the company.

Watsa’s efforts, which were first reported by The Globe and Mail earlier today, are still in their preliminary stages and it’s not yet clear who in private equity he has approached or who might be interested in his proposal.

One firm that’s almost certainly not interested: Silver Lake Partners, which held talks with BlackBerry about taking the company private in late 2011/early 2012. Sources close to the firm, which is currently working with Michael Dell to take the PC maker that bears his name private in a $24.8 billion deal, said it has no interest in working with Watsa or BlackBerry at this time.

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