By Euan Rocha
TORONTO Jan 21 BlackBerry Ltd
said on Tuesday it intends to divest the majority of its real
estate holdings in Canada, as it seeks to bolster its balance
sheet and turn around its fortunes.
In partnership with commercial real estate services company
CBRE, BlackBerry said it intends to strategically divest the
majority of its real estate assets via a combination of
sale-leaseback and vacant asset sales.
The company did not disclose how much it expects to raise
from the process. The properties being put on sale comprise over
3 million square feet of office space, the company said.
The announcement comes barely a month after the technology
company agreed to sell five buildings, along with some land, to
the University of Waterloo for about C$41 million.
That deal is expected to close next month. The university
said the five buildings would add some 300,000 square feet of
space to its campus footprint and over 1,000 parking spaces.
The moves to monetize the real estate assets comes after a
series of major layoffs by BlackBerry, which is attempting to
reinvent itself and turn around its faded fortunes.
The company did not provide details on the location of the
real estate assets, but much of BlackBerry's real estate asset
base is centered around its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.
John Chen, BlackBerry's new chief executive, in a statement
said the company remains committed to being headquartered in
Waterloo and having a strong presence in Canada following the
planned real estate asset sales.
"This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry's financial
flexibility and will provide additional resources to support our
operations as our business continues to evolve," he said.
Chen has been working quickly to implement a whole series of
changes in the company, as it seeks to reinvent itself and focus
less on its devices segment, and more on its services business.
The company's stock, which fell to a 10-year low on the
Toronto Stock Exchange last month, has since been on a tear and
surged 30 percent this year. Much of the new optimism springs
from the company finalizing a handset production deal with FIH
Mobile in December. The deal lowers the risk of the
company having to book huge writedowns on unsold