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BlackBerry gives up on selling itself as CEO resigns

Fairfax and partners will purchase $1 billion in BlackBerry debt; former Sybase chief Chen named interim CEO

November 4, 2013 09:33 AM ET

Computerworld - BlackBerry announced Monday that it won't be sold to Fairfax Financial Holdings or any other suitors, and that its CEO Thorsten Heins will resign.

John Chen, former CEO of Sybase will step in as interim CEO, BlackBerry said in a statement.

Fairfax had tentatively agreed in September to buy BlackBerry for $4.7 billion in a deal that was set to close today. Fairfax reportedly couldn't raise financing to close the deal.

Meanwhile, other suitors had come forward to investigate taking the company private, including BlackBerry's founders.

Instead of buying BlackBerry, Fairfax will join with others to invest $1 billion in the company. BlackBerry will sell convertible debt to the investors. Fairfax will acquire $250 million of the $1 billion. The transaction is expected to be finished in two weeks.

Prem Watsa, CEO of Fairfax, will become lead director of compensation, nomination and governance at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry had first arranged the purchase in September after setting up a "review of strategic alternatives" in August in light of a $1 billion write-off in its recent quarter over poor smartphone sales. Layoffs of 4,500 workers were also announced at the time.

Today's statement merely says that review process is concluded.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter@matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed Hamblen RSS. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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