BlackBerry has no plans to exit phone business; Chen promises changes

|About: BlackBerry Ltd. (BB)|By:, SA News Editor

Though new BlackBerry (BBRY -16.9%) chairman/interim CEO John Chen suggests he'll focus on making the company a leader in business services, he says there are no plans to shutter BlackBerry's money and share-losing phone business.

Chen does promise additional C-suite changes for the struggling company following Thorsten Heins' ouster, and foresees BlackBerry's turnaround taking at least six quarters.

Chen's track record at Sybase - he helped the transform a second-tier database vendor into an early leader in enterprise mobile apps - has raised hopes among BlackBerry investors, and so have his ties to P-E firm Silver Lake, which just helped take Dell private. However, Chen insists his decision to join BlackBerry has nothing to do with Silver Lake.

Prem Watsa has echoed Chen's remarks by saying there are no plans to break up BlackBerry. Watsa also claims (in spite of recent reports to the contrary) he could've lined up enough financing for a BlackBerry LBO, but concluded "a leveraged buyout with high-yield debt and at high interest rates was not appropriate for this company." Canaccord, however, thinks a breakup is still the most likely end-game.

National Bank has cut shares to Underperform, and MKM has upgraded them to Neutral. The latter is still only giving the company a $6/share sum-of-the-parts valuation ($4 for the services ops, $1.50 for patents, $0.50 for BB10/QNX).

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