BlackBerry shares rise on interest from strategic buyers

TORONTO Mon Oct 7, 2013 9:01am EDT

TORONTO Oct 7 (Reuters) - Shares of BlackBerry Ltd rose more than 4 percent in trading before the bell on Monday, following news of interest from strategic buyers in the embattled smartphone company and an analyst upgrade on the company's stock.

Shares in the company rose above the $8 mark after a Reuters report on Friday that the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is in talks with Cisco Systems, Google Inc and SAP about selling them all or parts of itself.

The potential interest from strategic buyers, along with the recent decline in BlackBerry's share price prompted Macquarie analyst Kevin Smithen to upgrade his rating on BlackBerry to "neutral" from "underperform."

Smithen, in a note to clients on Monday, said he believes the recent decline in the company's share price to well below Fairfax Financial Holdings' stalking horse bid price of $9, "has finally attracted enough interest from the global tech titans who may take a 'punt' on enterprise mobility."

Reuters also reported that BlackBerry is seeking preliminary expressions of interest from potential strategic buyers, which also include Intel Corp and Asian companies LG and Samsung, by early this week.

Smithen advised clients to hold on to the stock until a deal is concluded, noting that the company's intellectual property, its secure network and its service contracts, could be of value to rivals and software companies that have so far struggled to break into enterprise mobility market.

"We believe a $6 to $9 sale price range by year end to perhaps a consortium of buyers is the most likely outcome," he said.

Shares in BlackBerry, which closed on the Nasdaq at $7.69 on Friday, were trading at $8.05 before the bell on Monday. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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