Shares in Research In Motion gained over 8 per cent on speculation linking the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics.
RIM’s shares closed up $1.30 at $17.47 after the BGR blog suggested RIM had held talks about licensing its software to Samsung. But Samsung said: “We haven’t considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in [buying it].”
The BGR report also suggested that RIM was interested in selling assets or the whole company to Samsung, although people close to the company firmly dismissed this idea. RIM senior management, led by Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, co-chief executives, have said publicly that they want to lead a company turnround and are not interested in a sale.
Samsung is the latest in a string of companies linked to a possible deal with RIM whose share price has fallen by over 75 per cent in the last year following a series of management missteps and earnings shortfalls.
Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon, the online retailer and manufacturer of the Kindle ebook reader, have all previously been mentioned as potential buyers for the beleaguered Canadian company. Nokia has confirmed that it was interested in RIM at one stage, but said it was rebuffed.
RIM shareholders have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of any visible signs of a turnround, and by the latest delays in the rollout of new BlackBerry devices that are not now expected to reach market before late 2012.
Analysts also note that the company is widely expected to bow to investor pressure and announce board room changes shortly that may involve the appointment of an independent chairman. Mr Balsillie and Mr Lazaridis currently also share the chairman’s role.
An independent chairman would almost certainly call for a full strategic review of the company’s operations, including options such as licensing RIM’s patent portfolio and perhaps its new BlackBerry 10 operating system in an effort to boost shareholder value.
Such a deal could well also make sense for Samsung which has emerged as the largest smartphone maker in the world in direct competition with Apple, Nokia and other handset makers, but which lacks its own high-end operating system.
Most Samsung smartphones, including its popular Galaxy family, run on the Google Android operating system although Samsung has also begun selling handsets based on Microsoft’s new WindowsPhone OS. This puts Samsung into competition with rivals such as HTC and Motorola Mobility that use Android for their smartphones.