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Lenovo considers possible bid for RIM in smartphone boost

PC maker is mulling merger targets and other potential deals, and the BlackBerry maker is on the list, according to a report from Bloomberg.

PC manufacturing giant Lenovo may be mulling a bid for Research In Motion as part of efforts to bolster its own smartphone unit. 

Lenovo's lineup
At a CES press event this month, Lenovo had some of its smartphones on display. The K800, which the company announced last year at CES, has a 32nm "Medfield" Atom processor. Kent German/CNET

According to a report by Bloomberg, the PC maker -- currently ranked second only to HP, according to the latest IDC figures -- is "assessing potential acquisition targets and strategic alliances," as it seeks to expand its post-PC business.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lenovo's chief financial officer, Wong Wai Ming, said that the company was "looking at all opportunities," adding: "We'll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders."

He said that the PC maker has a team working on possible acquisitions, and that dialogue between Lenovo and RIM had been open. However, Wong declined to comment on whether a decision had been made to bid for the smartphone maker.

Lenovo already has a range of Android-based smartphones on the market, with plans to dish out a Windows Phone 8 handset, as revealed at the recent CES 2013 show.

If RIM does end up licensing out the BlackBerry 10 platform, as suggested in recent days, it would be a welcome boon to RIM's investor and shareholder concerns, but also to Lenovo as it spreads its weight across a number of platforms.

But, exactly how the China-based company would work its way into buying the company could bring cause for concern, considering a recent report by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that the Chinese government has Huawei and ZTE under its thumb. Both companies deny that they are spying for the Chinese or engaged in espionage. 

For a Chinese company to buy out a maker of enterprise-grade security-enabled smartphones, despite the recent push by governments toward Apple products, would be interesting to say the least.

The Canadian government hinted in recent days that it would prefer RIM to remain a Canadian company, but could not rule out that any sale of the firm would not have to go through the country's regulators, due to the sheer size of the company.

A RIM spokesperson told ZDNet in an e-mailed statement that RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins made it very clear that the company is focused on the delivery of BlackBerry 10, set for a global launch on January 30. On the company's most recent earnings conference call on December 20, RIM said it continues to examine all available options to "create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders."

The spokesperson noted that the smartphone maker does not have anything new to report at this time.

ZDNet will be at the BlackBerry 10 launch with coverage from New York and London.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Lenovo may bid to acquire RIM in smartphone boost: report."