BlackBerry founder hikes stake in company, weighs takeover

Founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis hopes to save the foundering smartphone maker.

Former RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis introduces BlackBerry PlayBook at the developer's conference in San Francisco in 2010. James Martin/CNET

BlackBerry founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis is considering another run with his old company.

Lazaridis and co-founder Douglas Fregin, who previously served as vice president of operations, have increased their combined stake in BlackBerry to 8 percent and have engaged Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to review a possible acquisition, according to a Thursday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lazaridis is considering a bid as concerns mount over FairFax Financial's ability to line up backers for its proposed deal to take the company private. BlackBerry, meanwhile, is weighing a breakup as its smartphone business continues to deteriorate.

While Lazaridis may be a white knight for the company now, BlackBerry's troubles were in part caused by him and former co-CEO Jim Balsillie. It was under their watch that the company fell behind and lost its perch atop the smartphone market.

A BlackBerry spokesman acknowledged that the company is considering alternatives but declined to go into detail. "The Special Committee, with the assistance of the company's independent financial and legal advisers, is conducting a robust and thorough review of strategic alternatives," he said. "We do not intend to disclose further developments with respect to the process until we approve a specific transaction or otherwise conclude the review of strategic alternatives."

Updated at 12:07 p.m. PTwith comment from a BlackBerry spokesman.

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