Factbox: BlackBerry's patents, services business may attract interest
(Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd said on Monday that it was considering strategic alternatives, including a possible sale.
Here is an overview of the assets of the one-time technology giant and some estimates on what they may be worth.
BlackBerry's security-focused services business routes data through a network of servers across the globe, supporting a shrinking subscriber base of some 72 million users. It is arguably the most valuable of BlackBerry's assets.
Analysts estimate that 20 million of the subscribers are enterprise or corporate users - a very attractive and hugely profitable base that may interest the likes of Google Inc and Microsoft Corp, which own and license operating systems to other handset makers. The network could deliver content for a company such as Amazon.com Inc.
Analysts have in the past valued the services business at between $3 billion and $4.5 billion. But that may have fallen as BlackBerry bleeds customers and alternatives emerge.
BlackBerry has registered patents for scores of inventions ranging from the angles on its thumb-friendly keyboard to methods of synchronizing and securing data.
BlackBerry's patent portfolio may be attractive to Google, Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Nokia Oyj, Microsoft and others in the fast-growing smartphone market. Analysts and bankers have previously valued the patents at between $2 billion and $3 billion.
But patents are notoriously tricky to value.
BlackBerry may not be able to sell its stake in a block of patents acquired from bankrupt telecommunications company Nortel Networks in 2011 in a consortium including Apple, Microsoft, EMC Corp, Ericsson and Sony Corp.
Analysts see little to no value in BlackBerry's handset business, which has probably lost money in recent years, according to some analysts who parsed the finer points of the company's filings.
Worse, it may cost $2 billion to close the unit down.
BlackBerry bought QNX Software Systems in 2010 for about $200 million. It started switching its own smartphones over to QNX's industrial-strength operating system, which runs power stations, massive Internet routers and other cannot-fail infrastructure.
BlackBerry had cash and investments of $3.1 billion and no debt as of late June. That equates to almost $6 a share. The company's U.S. stock was trading at about $10.25 on Monday, giving BlackBerry a market valuation of $5.4 billion.
It also still owns most of its facilities and has already spent heavily to shrink its workforce and reduce the number of third-party manufacturers it pays to make its phones.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Lisa Von Ahn)
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