April 21, 2015 / 1:32 PM / 3 years ago

BlackBerry to buy WatchDox to bolster data security

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd BBRY.O (BB.TO) said on Tuesday it is acquiring privately-held U.S. tech company WatchDox, which makes software that secures files for clients ranging from private equity firms to Hollywood studios, in a bid to boost its security offerings.

The Blackberry sign is pictured in Waterloo June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

WatchDox’s software gives clients control over how their files are edited, copied, printed or forwarded. Network administrators will be able to revoke access to files, or delete them remotely even after they leave a company’s corporate network.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source, said BlackBerry was paying $70 million for the Palo Alto, California-based company.

Some of WatchDox’s 85-member team is based at its research and development facilities in Petah Tikva, Israel.

“Israel’s widely known as a very innovative security market, and we believe the team there is excellent,” Jim Mackey, BlackBerry’s head of corporate development, said in an interview. “We believe we can use the location as a way to attract more talent and expand our offerings.”

He said BlackBerry intends to build up the WatchDox business quickly, and he hinted that the Waterloo, Ontario-based company would continue to scout for similar tuck-in deals.

Earlier this year, BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said he saw a part of the company’s targeted software revenue growth in the current fiscal year coming from acquisitions of companies that will allow it to sell more value-added services.

Chen is boosting BlackBerry’s software and service offerings in an effort to offset declines from its smartphone business, which has been eroded by competition from the likes of Apple (AAPL.O) and Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS).

Last year, BlackBerry bought Secusmart, a privately-held German firm that specializes in voice and data encryption used by the German government and other customers. In September, it acquired Movirtu, a British-based tech start-up whose software allows users to have two phone numbers on the same device with a single SIM card.

The purchases have helped BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services that cater to the needs of its core base of clients, such as corporations and government agencies.

“WatchDox is just yet another mobile productivity and secure communication solution that we can put in our bag and provide as part of a compelling portfolio,” Mackey said.

(This version of the story adds details from the interview and the background)

Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Paul Simao

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