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BlackBerry Abandons Sales Plans, Will Replace CEO

BlackBerry's CEO Thorsten Heins officially unveils the Z10 smartphone in January.
Timothy A. Clary
AFP/Getty Images
BlackBerry's CEO Thorsten Heins officially unveils the Z10 smartphone in January.

BlackBerry says it is abandoning a $4.7 billion deal to sell the struggling mobile company to a consortium of investors lead by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited.

The tentative deal was announced in September. The Globe and Mail reports today that the company will instead raise $1 billion in new funds and "replace its chief executive and some directors."

The paper explains:

"The new plan will involve raising roughly $1-billion by selling convertible notes to a group of investors, according to people familiar with the transaction. Chief executive officer Thorsten Heins will depart the company, and the company will announce changes to its board, the people said.

"Mr. Heins was named to the top job early last year, taking over from Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who had run the company since its earliest days.

"Mr. Heins' short tenure was marked by the rocky launch of BlackBerry's new phone lineup. The new phones met tepid demand, and BlackBerry made the decision to officially put itself up for sale in August."

The Wall Street Journal reports that John Chen will act as interim CEO, once the deal for the $1 billion in new funds is closed.

As we reported when the letter of intent with Fairfax was unveiled, BlackBerry is in tumult: In September, the company announced a $1 billion quarterly loss and said it would shed 40 percent of its workforce.

In short, the company that was once king in the smartphone market has failed to capture the imagination of its consumers in recent years. Case in point: BlackBerry reported that over the months of July, August and September it sold 3.7 million smart phones, while Apple sold 9 million iPhones the weekend it launched its 5s and 5c models.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.