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Manulife Joins BlackBerry Debt Sale as Brookfield Reduces Role

BlackBerry Smartphone
The BlackBerry logo sits on the screen of a BlackBerry smartphone, produced by BlackBerry Ltd., in this arranged photograph taken in London. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Manulife Financial Corp., Canada’s largest insurer by market value, agreed to invest $70 million in BlackBerry Ltd.’s $1 billion debt sale, while Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Markel Corp. reduced their roles.

Brookfield lowered its stake to $10 million from $50 million, and Markel cut its investment to $70 million from $100 million, according to a filing today.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., BlackBerry’s largest investor, orchestrated the $1 billion debt sale this week after deciding not to proceed with a tentative $4.7 billion bid to buy the struggling smartphone maker. Investors in the convertible debentures also include Qatar Holding LLC and Canso Investment Counsel Ltd.

The move to borrow the funds underscores BlackBerry’s deteriorating cash situation. Its cash and short-term investments fell by almost $500 million last quarter to $2.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At that rate, the money would be gone by the end of next year.

The portfolio management arm of Toronto-based Manulife holds shares of BlackBerry.

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