John Paczkowski

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BlackBerry Will Be Lucky to Get $12 to $13 Per Share in a Buyout

shocked_monopoly_manComing up with a reasonable takeout price for BlackBerry, given the turnaround challenges facing the company and its deteriorating fundamentals, is no easy task. But a few analysts have taken a stab at it, and the numbers they’ve come up with aren’t all that encouraging.

Early reports suggested a possible takeout price of $14 or $15 per share. But now Nomura Equity Research’s Stuart Jeffrey argues that it’s likely to be even lower than that — assuming that BlackBerry can actually find a bidder.

Jeffrey figures that the risks and uncertainties surrounding BlackBerry and its business are so daunting that the company won’t see bids of more than $12 to $13, even from an “optimistic buyer” — should one emerge. BlackBerry’s shares closed at $11.04 on Wednesday, so we’re not looking at much of a premium.

What might such a buyer see in the sadly declining BlackBerry? A viable software-as-a-service play.

“We believe that an optimist might see a way to transform BlackBerry into a SaaS company by keeping its email, calendar, contacts, and other mobile services, (and) leveraging the company’s relationships with mobile operators and enterprises,” Jeffrey said. “The only way that this might succeed, in our view, is if BlackBerry services can be delivered on iOS and Android devices.”

BlackBerry’s recently announced Secure Work Space service proposes to do exactly that, though it’s not yet clear how well. That might make the company more appealing to Jeffrey’s mythical “optimistic buyer,” who would at least have some decent raw materials with which to fashion a competitive SaaS offering. Though anyone that hoped to do so would still have to give BlackBerry a meaningful restructuring. And that means selling or shuttering its devices unit. And layoffs.

Said Jeffrey, “We estimate that this might require the cutting of a further 5,000 jobs on top of the already announced 6,000 cuts.”

Dirty work for an “optimistic buyer.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work