Amazon, Microsoft, Nokia All Considered Potential RIM Takeover Bids
Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) as well as a joint team of Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) and Nokia (NYS: NOK) have considered takeover bids for struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) , but no formal offers have been made, according to multiple reports.
The reports, which caused RIM's shares to surge on takeover speculation, also indicate that RIM's management is not able to discuss takeover or merger possibilities until RIM launches the BlackBerry 10 platform late next year. The reports, in Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said that RIM intends to focus on executing its current plans. RIM's shares rose 8.8 percent in morning trading Wednesday, the most in 10 weeks.
According to a Reuters report, Amazon hired an investment bank last summer to explore a potential merger with RIM, but did not make a formal offer. The report said it is not clear if informal discussions ever led to talk of a specific price, but noted that Amazon and RIM are still looking at ways to expand their commercial ties.
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft and Nokia "flirted" with the idea of making a joint bid for RIM, but the status of those negotiations are unclear. However, the Journal also noted that RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie has indicated he wants to wait until the launch BlackBerry 10 before deciding whether to engage seriously with potential buyers.
In March, RIM and Microsoft partnered to make a new RIM-hosted BlackBerry-enterprise service available for Microsoft's Office 365 cloud computing suite. The Journal report noted that executives from all three companies meet regularly to talk about potential partnerships. Indeed, it's not unusual for technology companies to explore the possibility of merging with rivals.
Representatives from Amazon, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM declined to comment, according to the reports.
Last week, RIM said it will not release its first BlackBerry 10 smartphones running on QNX software until the "latter part" of 2012 because the dual-core LTE chipset it intends to use for the platform will not be available until mid-2012. Previously, RIM had said it expected QNX-based smartphones sometime in early 2012. That news led some analysts to downgrade RIM even further amid pessimism that the company could turn around its falling market share numbers, especially in the United States.
Still, financial analysts said the recent spate of reports is likely inconsequential in terms of RIM's near-term strategy. "It is unlikely RIM will pursue strategic action prior to launching BlackBerry 10," JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall told Bloomberg. "The company needs to focus on executing and closing a significant product gap rather than being distracted with M&A."
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