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Last-Chance Weekend to Get Your Bid in for BlackBerry

Paul Ausick

If you are still among the rumored hordes considering a bid for smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY), you have until Monday to get your bid in. Or maybe not, depending on how successful Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is putting the financing together for its $9 a share, $4.7 billion bid for the phone maker. Fairfax has a Monday deadline for completing its due diligence and showing the color of its money.

We noted a few weeks ago that BlackBerry’s co-founders were interested in putting together a bid for the company. At the time private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP was also said to be interested in making a bid. And Friday, sources told The Wall Street Journal that the co-founders, Cerberus, and, now, Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) may join together to make a bid for BlackBerry.

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What’s almost certain is that a bid, if it does come, will not offer $9 a share. If Fairfax could have found the funding to pay that much the deal would be done by now.

So, how much is BlackBerry worth? The stock closed at $7.77 on Friday, about 14% lower than the Fairfax bid. Not an unheard of premium in a takeover bid, but with the understanding that the underlying asset is worth the base price to begin with.

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The only way that BlackBerry is worth $9 a share is if it is sold in pieces. It’s patent portfolio is probably worth about $1.6 billion, its enterprise network might be worth up to $1.1 billion, and the company had about $2.6 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of its most recent fiscal year in March. The smartphone business is worth essentially nothing.

Qualcomm’s only interest in bidding on BlackBerry has got to be in the Canadian company’s patent portfolio. Keeping BlackBerry afloat as a customer for Qualcomm’s chips is laughable. Cerberus, an acknowledged buyer of hopeless cases, won’t overpay, and co-founders Lazaridis and Fergin would never have let the company go if they knew how to fix it.

Like we said, there’s still time for you to get a bid in. If you really want to, that is.

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