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RIM Said to Have Talks With Silver Lake About Going Private

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, once held talks with private-equity firm Silver Lake about a possible deal to take the company private, a person familiar with the discussions said.

The talks occurred before current Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins took charge in January, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the negotiations were private. The discussions were preliminary and the two sides weren’t able to agree on a potential valuation, the person said. The deal would have allowed RIM to work on a turnaround without the scrutiny of being a public company.

Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, declined to comment, as did Gemma Hart, a spokeswoman for Silver Lake.

RIM is preparing to release the BlackBerry 10 operating system as the linchpin of a comeback plan. Sales tumbled 25 percent last quarter, with U.S. revenue plummeting more than 50 percent. The old BlackBerry, best-suited for checking e-mail and other business functions, has struggled to keep up with the Web capabilities and applications of Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Google Inc.’s Android devices.

RIM shares declined 5 percent to $12.80 today at the close in New York. The stock has lost almost three-quarters of its value over the past year.

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