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RIM Up For Sale: Why Facebook or Sony Will Close the Deal

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For as much as I have covered technology stocks and found a so-called "turnaround story" seemingly at every turn -- including Sirius XM (SIRI) or Nokia (NOK) -- one thing I have realized is that there are few of these stories on Wall Street that have happy endings. In the world of business there is no such thing as "retirement parties" or "sunset send-offs."

Instead, what happen is, as soon as a market leader emerges, rivals come out like a pack of wolves to circle around any sign of weakness with the sole purpose of taking what you have and sending you out of business. It's merciless and shrewd, yet it's the best system ever developed.

Some companies, such as IBM (IBM), are able to withstand the assault and adapt. while the names of others such as Novell and Palm have become synonymous with failure, with only their corpses left to be dissected in business schools to warn future CEOs of the importance of not resting on one's laurels.

At Research in Motion (RIMM) the story however is unlike any other, as chapters are being added daily. While it is a foregone conclusion it has lost its battle in the smartphone market to rivals such as Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Google (GOOG - Get Report), what is not known is how its story is going to end. Last week, though, a sudden twist was added as the company issued a statement suggesting it was looking into "strategic business model alternatives."

It said this while also announcing it had hired JP Morgan (JPM) and RBC Capital to help search for a partner to license its software. Bankers don't normally help in mere "partnership capacities," though. They become involved when a company has put itself up for sale. And there is no doubt this is exactly what RIM has done. (Its announced job cuts last week was a move to make itself more attractive to potential suitors.) The question now is: Who should be on the short list of those most likely to be interested?

The case for Facebook
Whenever RIM is said to be a target of an acquisition, there is the obligatory mention of Microsoft (MSFT), which makes perfect sense; it would relish the opportunity to beat Apple and Google at their own games while strengthening its existing partnership with Nokia. For that matter, there are plenty of reasons why Nokia might enter the mix and make a play of its own for RIM.

I think the two best candidates for RIM are social media giant Facebook (FB - Get Report) and Sony (SNE - Get Report), though, with the latter needing something to restore its brand and save it from obscurity.
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