Lenovo may be considering a takeover of Research in Motion, in an attempt to expand out of its core PC business and into mobile.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Lenovo’s chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming, conceded that competition from tablets was eating into the company’s profits.
The company launched its first touch-screen phone in 2010, and is promising a Windows Phone 8 handset soon; it’s already doing well in the Chinese market, but as a late starter could do with a boost. The same strategy worked well for Lenovo when it acquired IBM’s PC business in 2005.
“We are looking at all opportunities – RIM and many others,” he said. “We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.”
Whether or not RIM is ‘the right opportunity’ will depend heavily on the reception it gets for its new BlackBerry 10 operating system next week. It’s also promising two new handsets shortly after the launch, with several others to follow during the year.
If the OS goes down well, though, it will boost the company’s share price, which has recently started to recover.
However, any takeover would need approval from the Canadian authorities – which are likely to be dubious. The company has been described by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper as a ‘crown jewel’, and seeing it sold would come as a bit of a blow. Deals of this size are automatically subject to government review.
A sale to a Chinese firm would be even more controversial, and could fall foul of the Investment Canada Act, which gives the government the authority to kill deals that could harm Canadian interests or threaten national security.
One possible scenario would see RIM selling off its hardware business, while licensing the OS. CEO Thorsten Heins recently confirmed that such a sell-off might be on the cards.