BlackBerry Said to Hire PwC to Evaluate Company

BlackBerry Ltd. (BB), the struggling Canadian smartphone maker, has hired accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to evaluate the company for potential buyers, according to two people with knowledge of the move.

A team of accountants and lawyers from the New York-based firm have been working in BlackBerry’s home town of Waterloo, Ontario, since August, said the people, who declined to be identified because the contract hasn’t been made public.

BlackBerry has been working with a growing list of consultants after embarking on a strategic review last month. It previously hired Perella Weinberg Partners LP as an adviser -- alongside its bankers at JPMorgan Chase & Co. -- to help explore its options, a person familiar with the decision said earlier this month. The company also has been cutting jobs and moving around workers to streamline its operations.

Kiran Chauhan, a spokeswoman for PwC, and Adam Emery, a spokesman for BlackBerry, declined to comment.

BlackBerry said last month that it was forming a special committee to evaluate its strategic options, including a potential sale of the company. JPMorgan (JPM) is advising that committee, which is led by Tim Dattels, a board member who also serves as a senior partner at private-equity firm TPG Capital. BlackBerry’s auditor is Ernst & Young LLP.

Seeking Acquirers

Even so, finding a buyer may not be easy. JPMorgan and RBC Capital Markets spent close to a year quietly canvassing potential acquirers without success, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FFH), BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, has been approaching Canadian pension fund managers to build support for a homegrown bid for the company, according to a person with knowledge of those discussions.

BlackBerry shares fell 3.2 percent to $10.18 at 2:21 p.m. in New York. The stock had declined 11 percent this year through yesterday.

Earlier this week, BlackBerry introduced its biggest touch-screen smartphone ever and opened up the company’s instant-messaging service to rival operating systems. BlackBerry also said it will continue to shake up its workforce with relocations and job cuts, aiming to reduce costs.

The latest cutbacks follow the elimination of 5,000 jobs last year, a move designed to trim $1 billion in operating expenses.

“Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing,” the company said this week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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