INTERVIEW-Fairfax's Watsa confident BlackBerry bid will succeed

Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:41pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd Chief Executive Prem Watsa said on Wednesday he is confident the consortium he leads can find the money to fund its $4.7 billion bid for smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd.

"We wouldn't put our name to such a high-profile deal if we didn't feel confident that at the end of the day that our due diligence would be fine and we'd be able to finance it," Watsa said in an interview.

The Canadian-led consortium put in its $9 a share bid for BlackBerry on Monday, arguing that the troubled company would have better chances as a private entity, away from Wall Street's constant gaze. The company pioneered mobile email communications but has lost ground to Apple Inc's iPhone and other snazzier rivals,

BlackBerry shares closed a full dollar below the bid price on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, indicating that investors were skeptical the deal would succeed. The stock edged up to $8.05 in after-market trade.

"Short term these things fluctuate, there is speculation one way, there's speculation the other way," Watsa said of the movement in BlackBerry's share price. "We never pay too much attention to the marketplace."

Fairfax is BlackBerry's biggest shareholder, and Watsa said he did not expect Fairfax would need to contribute more than its existing stake of about 10 percent to the buyout bid. He said the bid was led by Fairfax and Canadian funds, but not restricted to them.

"BlackBerry is one of Canada's great success stories," he said. "There is no question it's fallen on hard times recently, but we have every confidence it will be successful again. We're putting a consortium together to make sure that that takes place."   Continued...