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BlackBerry's Stalking Horse Bid by Watsa

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It seems like BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) has been on sale forever. It first announced it had hired bankers to "explore alternatives" more than 15 months ago.

Until Monday, those bankers didn't produce any results.

The company hired more bankers earlier this year. They also led to no results.

So, midway through last quarter (when, with hindsight, we can tell clearly the company realized it was in trouble), BlackBerry sent out smoke signals it wanted someone to buy it -- and quick.

Yet, nothing still.

So, after a crushing set of quarterly results preannounced on Friday because it would have been horrible to simply wait and announce them during the regularly scheduled quarterly call on Friday, BlackBerry's board realized it had to do something to halt the company's interminable slide.

If you thought the pre-announced earnings were bad -- in which the company missed Wall Street estimates by 50% and a majority of its phones sold were three-year-old BB7s instead of the new BB10s -- they are only going to get worse from here.

Just imagine if you are a big CIO for a government agency and you were thinking of placing a big order for BB10s. How can you justify that now after the company's Friday results? Seriously.

BlackBerry's board knows this. I said Friday that there is no way this company made it to its next earnings call as a standalone public company. It was panic time.

So BlackBerry turned to its largest shareholder (at 10%) and former director Prem Watsa, founder, chairman, and chief executive of Fairfax Financial Holdings in Toronto.

Watsa's cost basis is around $10/share.

If I was him, I just want my money back from this trade.

So, he made a conditional offer for BlackBerry for $9/share. That values his stake at about $463 million.

But it's conditional on him getting financing. He told the Wall Street Journal his consortium is likely to include several Canadian pension plans, but that's not certain.

His offer also says that BlackBerry gets to shop itself for six weeks now. If it finds someone who wants to spend a penny more than $9 a share for BlackBerry, Watsa gets $150 million as a breakup fee.
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