That breakup fee -- plus whatever he gets above and beyond $9 for his shares -- will make him solidly profitable on what many would call a busted trade.
It's a very canny move by Watsa.
If I was him, there's no way in the world I would want to take this company private. How are you going to be able to turn around the operations you haven't been able to do while as a public company?
There's this idea that you get all this freedom as a private company because you're not subject to the pressures from Wall Street analysts. But I just don't buy it.
As a private company, BlackBerry will still have limited cash and likely more debt, of which it has none now. It would probably torch whatever remaining staff it has, try to milk its remaining subscribers for as long as it can. But most people go private in order to go public at some point in the future.
I just don't see that as a possibility anytime soon for a skinnied down BlackBerry.
It appears this is a stalking horse bid by Watsa. Everyone and his brother had kicked the tires of BlackBerry but hasn't been inclined to make an offer. Now, it's going once, going twice....
Watsa likely hopes that a
is inclined to finally make a formal offer.
Whether it works or not, it's likely Watsa's best move in a bad situation.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.