John Paczkowski

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BlackBerry Co-Founders Lazaridis, Fregin Mulling Bid to Buy Back Company

lazaridis-380x253BlackBerry co-founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis is considering taking a run at his former company with fellow co-founder Doug Fregin.

According to a regulatory filing released Thursday, the pair are exploring a potential takeover bid for the struggling smartphone company, which is already entertaining a $4.7 billion offer from its largest shareholder Fairfax Financial.

Together, Lazaridis and Fregin hold an eight percent stake in the Canadian company — about 41.7 million shares — and are exploring “the possibility of submitting a potential joint bid to acquire” all of the BlackBerry shares they do not already own. To that end, the former BlackBerry execs have hired Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to help with the process. Sources familiar with the matter tell AllThingsD that Lazaridis and Fregin are not collaborating with Fairfax Financial.

An interesting turn of events in the BlackBerry story. Lazaridis is pioneer who established BlackBerry in 1984 as Research In Motion and turned the company into an industry juggernaut. But he presided over its decline as well. And one could argue that it was his strategic failures — particularly his foolishly dismissive attitude toward iPhone and Android as emerging threats, that brought the company to this sorry state in the first place. Is he really the guy to pull it back from the brink of the abyss?

BlackBerry declined specific comment on the Lazaridis-Fregin effort, offering its now standard refrain on news like this: “The Special Committee, with the assistance of the Company’s independent financial and legal advisors, is conducting a robust and thorough review of strategic alternatives. We do not intend to disclose further developments with respect to the process until we approve a specific transaction or otherwise conclude the review of strategic alternatives.”

Lazaridis was an occasional guest at our D conferences. Below, video of his sessions at D7 and D:Dive Into Mobile:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald