RIM hires Goldman Sachs to field buyout offers?

The latest on the Research In Motion front says the company has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore buyout options.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Talk of Research In Motion being acquired just won't go away. But this time, it might be RIM's fault.

The BlackBerry maker has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to help it field potential buyout offers, according to the rumor mill on the Wall Street trading floor. According to Reuters, one unidentified trader said yesterday that RIM is "up on Goldman," but cautioned that it doesn't mean a sale is coming anytime soon.

Even so, all that speculation was enough to see RIM's shares jump over 5 percent yesterday to settle at $16.44. It was a much-needed boost for a stock that has been slumping over the past year, declining nearly 74 percent in the last 12 months.

But investors should remember that we've been here before. For months now, rumors have been swirling that RIM might sell off its company to the highest bidder, but so far, the BlackBerry maker hasn't done so. Some say that's because co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stubbornly want to turn things around, while others say it might simply be that no one is interested in acquiring RIM.

Both arguments might hold up. Just last month, Reuters reported that Amazon mulled acquiring RIM before backing off after the BlackBerry maker made it clear it wanted to go it alone. The very next day, The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft and Nokia also showed interest in making a joint bid for RIM, but decided against it.

RIM's investors are growing anxious. Last month, one of the company's investors said that the time has come for RIM to sell off its ailing handset business, which continue to lose market share to Apple's iOS and Android, and focus its efforts on restoring value through services.

"Jaguar believes that RIM should sell its handset business and monetize its patent portfolio, while retaining its service business under new leadership," Jaguar Financial said in a statement. "Jaguar believes RIM has lost its ability to compete in the consumer hardware business and a sale or spinout to its shareholders of the handset business is recommended as an approach to restoring value."

If the reports are true and RIM has brought in Goldman Sachs, it might indicate the company's executives are rethinking their definitive no-sale stance. However, just because a company hires an investment bank, it doesn't mean that any moves will happen soon. Yahoo hired investment banks months ago to field potential buyout bids, and so far, it has done nothing. Other companies hire banks before ultimately deciding to keep things the same.

So, while investors may be happy to know RIM might be considering selling, it's by no means a guarantee.

RIM did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.