BlackBerry buyout deal is dead, CEO replaced

A deal to buy BlackBerry has apparently fallen through, leading the ailing company to fire its boss and recruit a new man at the top.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read

A deal to buy BlackBerry has fallen through, leading the ailing company to fire its boss and recruit a new man at the top.

Canadian paper the Globe and Mail reports that BlackBerry will plough on after failing to find a buyer, booting boss Thorsten Heins and raising $1bn to keep the company going.

BlackBerry's future is hanging in the balance as the financially troubled company struggled to find a buyer before today's deadline. Fairfax, a Canadian insurance and investment company and BlackBerry's majority shareholder, was the front runner with a plan to spend $4.7bn buying up the rest of the company. But it seems that banks weren't interested in stumping up that much cash to back such an obviously struggling company. Instead, Fairfax will inject $1bn into the company to keep it afloat.

Another rumoured bid, backed by Qualcomm and the founders of the company, appears to have stalled too.

Departing boss Thorsten Heins replaced BlackBerry founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in the top job in January 2012, making the 55-year-old German-born engineer responsible for shepherding the long-delayed BlackBerry 10 onto shop shelves. Sadly, the likes of the BlackBerry Z30, BlackBerry Q10 and their ilk have failed to set the world alight.

Watch this: BlackBerry Z30

In a clear-out that also sees other board members replaced Heins will be succeeded by John Chen, the former CEO of Sybase, with experience of serving on the board of the New York Stock Exchange, Wells Fargo and Disney, as well as being a mandarin in George W Bush's government.

Chen has a tough road ahead: in its most recent numbers, BlackBerry admitted a quarterly loss of nearly $1bn.

"It's a bad thing that BlackBerry wasn't able to go private so it could undergo the transformation it needs to make," says industry expert Carolina Milanesi of Gartner. That transformation is required not to save the company's devices business but to shift focus to services to "see the role they can still play in the enterprise market as an enabler of other platforms."

Can BlackBerry crack on as a going concern? What would make you pick a BlackBerry over an iPhone, Android or Windows Phone? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.