BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis is reportedly considering a bid to take over the struggling smartphone maker.
Lazaridis, who stepped down as co-chief executive last year, is talking to private equity firms about a bid for the company, which reported a big loss and announced 4,500 layoffs this week.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported the talks. The New York Times said that Lazaridis has separately approached the Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group about making an offer. The talks are in a preliminary stage. But the potential for a deal is growing as BlackBerry’s stock tanks further.
On Friday, shares plunged as the company reported quarterly revenue far below analyst expectations. BlackBerry shares listed in the United States fell 17.1 percent to $8.73. The publications could not reach the parties for official comment.
Private equity firms have considered a bid for BlackBerry for more than a year, but the company is in a tough spot, making the private equity firms gun shy about investing money in it.
Lazaridis, who co-founded the firm in 1985, is still one of the largest individuals shareholders.
On Friday, BlackBerry said it expects operating loss between $950 million and $995 million in the second quarter and it would lay off 4,500 employees. It will refocus on enterprise and “prosumer” customers rather than mainstream consumers.
As part of its move away from the consumer market, the company says it will reduce its smartphone portfolio from six phones to four (at this point, there are only two BlackBerry 10 devices on the market). Now that the iPhone and Android are dominating mainstream smartphone buyers, BlackBerry’s only hope is to appeal to the businesses that need its secure services and its few remaining hardcore fans. The company plans to offer two high-end smartphones and two entry-level phones, with each group containing an all-touchscreen device and physical keyboard model.
BlackBerry says it will also offer hardware and software services to other companies. It just announced a new flagship smartphone, the BlackBerry Z30, as well as plans to bring its BlackBerry Messenger service to the iPhone and Android this weekend.