BlackBerry shares rally on AT&T launch, takeover hopes

Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:49pm EDT
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry (BB.TO: Quote) shares rose 12 percent on Monday, fueled by takeover speculation and news that AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote) will start selling the new BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen smartphone in the United States on March 22.

The CEO of China's Lenovo Group Ltd (0992.HK: Quote) told a French newspaper on Monday that the personal computer maker might consider an acquisition of Canada's BlackBerry at some point in the future.

"External growth remains a question of opportunities," Yang Yuanqing told Les Échos in an interview.

"As for BlackBerry, the file could eventually make sense, but I must first analyze the market and understand the exact weight of this company," he said in response to a question about whether the company would make a move on BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, a one-time smartphone pioneer, has bled market share to the likes of Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote) iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's (005930.KS: Quote) Galaxy line and other devices powered by Google Inc's (GOOG.O: Quote) market-leading Android operating system.

In a make-or-break move to regain market share and return to profit, BlackBerry introduced the new smartphone to much fanfare in January, and said it was abandoning its old name, Research In Motion, and renaming itself BlackBerry.

A spokesman for Lenovo in Canada downplayed the CEO's comment, saying, "in no way was this an indication of activity or strategic direction."

Another Lenovo executive had made a similar comment when asked about BlackBerry in January. That remark also sparked a rally in BlackBerry shares, but Lenovo said at the time that the executive was only speaking broadly about M&A strategy.   Continued...

A person uses the new Blackberry Z10 device at a Rogers store in Toronto February 5, 2013. Tuesday marks the first day the Blackberry Z10 with the BB10 operating system goes on sale to the public in North America. REUTERS/Mark Blinch