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Alternative plan would sell a stake to a large company like Microsoft

Embattled Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) CEO Thorsten Heins has expressed openness to "strategic business model alternatives", commentary which some believe hints at a sale.  RIM retained help to explore its options -- the Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY) and JPMorgan Chase & Comp. (JPM).

Now The Sunday Times, a top United Kingdom weekly owned by News Corp. (NWS), is claiming that RIM is considering a proposal from its bank advisors to split itself in two.  One company will be composed of RIM's services, which include BlackBerry Messaging (BBM), BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES).  The other company would be RIM's handset business and potentially certain patents.

The latter company would be put on the auction block.  Potential buyers are thought to be Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) whose tablet success might embolden it for a handset dip, or Facebook, Inc. (FB) who is reportedly eyeing a handset plunge to boost revenues.

BlackBerry sales
RIM is reportedly considering selling its handset business.
[Image Source: Christian Science Monitor]

The services company could also be sold, if interested bidders were found.

So far RIM has only publicly received a handful of seemingly sarcastic offers, such as one rapper's proposal to buy it.  But RIM's industry leading physical keyboards, brand recognition, and experienced staff could be make the company's handset division a tempting "fixer-upper" for an ambitious firm.

According to The Sunday Times, a second alternative plan from the advising firms would be to sell a large market share to a company like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

RIM is coming up on its fiscal Q1 earnings, which will be revealed on June 28th.  CEO Heins says his firm will "likely have an operating loss", following a similar loss las quarter.  Unsold handsets are piling up and RIM has begun to lay off a large chunk of its global workforce -- in short, time may be running out to preserve shareholder value in the struggling firm.

Source: The Sunday Times





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