Lenovo Eyes RIM to Gain Presence on Smartphone Market

Lenovo Could Bid for Smartphone Maker to Boost Mobile Business Unit

by Anton Shilov
01/24/2013 | 04:32 PM

Lenovo Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of personal computers, is considering acquisitions and strategic alliances with other companies in order to boost mobile business unit. Among other things, Lenovo is eyeing a takeover of Research in Motion, a leading maker of business-oriented smartphones that is losing money these days.

 

“We are looking at all opportunities – RIM and many others. We will have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders,” said Wong Wai Ming, chief financial officer of Lenovo, in an interview with Bloomberg news-agency at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

RIM has been losing market share to Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones for several years now. Last year the maker of Blackberry smartphones began to consider strategic options for itself. Recently Thorsten Heins, chief executive officer of RIM, said that he could consider selling off the company’s hardware production business unit in order to concentrate on the BlackBerry 10 operating system in particular and the eco-system in general.

According to unofficial information, IBM has informally approached Research in Motion in a bid to acquire its most valuable asset, the enterprise services unit, which operates a network of secure servers used to support RIM’s BlackBerry devices and also owns numerous patents. RIM reportedly turned down the offering from IBM, which could bring the firm $1.5 - $2.5 billion, so currently there are no ongoing negotiations.

Lenovo has a history of acquisitions that led to successful expansions onto new markets. However, the company itself is also investing a lot into research and development, which further helps to grow at a rapid pace. Acquisition of RIM would naturally open Lenovo doors to the market of enterprise communications, a segment which significance is hard to overestimate.

It should be noted that the Canadian government automatically reviews all foreign acquisitions of companies with asset values of more than $344 million to determine whether the transactions are a “net benefit” to the country. Putting RIM under Chinese ownership also would raise major security questions. However, in case Lenovo gets hardware business along and key intellectual property, software and servers remain in Canada, it could be an opportunity. At the same time, the value of BlackBerry is its software, not hardware, which means that Lenovo will almost completely depend on RIM should it buy only the hardware business.

RIM did not comment on the news-story.