UPDATE 1-BlackBerry reaches deal to sell most of its real estate in Canada
TORONTO, March 21 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd said on Friday it has reached an agreement to sell the vast majority of its real estate holdings in Canada, as part of a plan outlined earlier this year aimed at bolstering the technology company's balance sheet.
BlackBerry said the terms of the transaction would only be announced after the principal conditions were satisfied, or waived by the parties acquiring the 3 million square feet of space that also includes vacant lands.
The company had in January announced that it planned to sell the assets, in partnership with commercial real estate services company CBRE. BlackBerry plans to lease back a portion of the space being sold.
The deal comes just a few months after BlackBerry, which rose to fame on the back of its popular smartphones, agreed to sell five buildings, along with some land, to the University of Waterloo for about C$41 million ($36.44 million).
Much of the real estate being sold is in Waterloo, Ontario, where BlackBerry has its headquarters.
As the company's fortunes have slid and its workforce has shrunk in recent years, the Kitchener-Waterloo region has turned into a tech start-up hub, spurring real estate demand in the area.
John Chen, BlackBerry's chief executive, said in a statement the company remains committed to being headquartered in Waterloo and having a strong presence in Canada following the real estate asset sales.
"The successful sale of property in Canada will help us move toward our goal of continued operational efficiency," Chen said.
Chen, who took the reins at BlackBerry late last year, has been working quickly to implement a series of changes in the company, as it seeks to reinvent itself and focus less on devices and more on its services business. ($1 = 1.1252 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Paul Simao)
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