What did BlackBerry’s co-founders just tell us?

Oct 10, 2013

FORTUNE -- BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin today said in an SEC filing that they are considering a buyout offer for the struggling smartphone maker, in which they currently hold a combined 8% stake. There is no mention of potential partners, although the pair is known to have previously reached out (unsuccessfully) to private equity firms.

What's interesting here isn't that the pair has interest in BlackBerry (bbry). For example, there were reports last month that Lazaridis had reached out to private equity firms like The Blackstone Group (bx) and The Carlyle Group (cg). Instead, it's that they aren't aligned with Canadian conglomerate Fairfax Financial, which recently "agreed" to buy BlackBerry for $4.7 billion.

I put "agreed" in quotation marks because the Fairfax deal had more holes than the Bushwood Country Club golf course. For starters, Fairfax had not yet conducted due diligence, and had the right to terminate the deal without paying any penalty. More importantly, Fairfax said that it was leading an investor group without identifying any of the other members (for its part, Fairfax only planned to roll over its 10% stake).

There had been some widespread assumptions that Fairfax planned to fill the equity hole by partnering with other existing shareholders like Lazaridis and Fregin. But the new filing would suggest the two are not working in concert. Or at least not yet. It also suggests that their talks with private equity firms have not yet borne fruit.

So today's development really just creates more questions than answers. Which really sums up the entire BlackBerry situation to date.

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