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Lenovo CEO Opens Doors to BlackBerry Buyout



Lenovo is once again spurring speculations about acquiring smartphone-maker BlackBerry, and this time company CEO Yang Yuanqing is making the statement.

Speaking to French news Les Echos, Yuanqing says that a BlackBerry acquisition “could possibly make sense.” The Lenovo head was quick to note that he still needed to analyze the strategic move of acquiring rival smartphone-maker BlackBerry, noting that “first I need to analyze the market and understand what exactly the importance of this company is.”

Will 2013 be the year that Lenovo "does" acquire BlackBerry?

Will 2013 be the year that Lenovo “does” acquire BlackBerry?

Lenovo currently makes smartphones and tablets running on Google’s Android operating system for consumers. The company is also a Microsoft partner and builds tablets, desktops, and laptops running Microsoft’s Windows OS. BlackBerry, which is slowly starting to show signs of a comeback, has recently announced its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. The company is launching the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone in the U.S. market this month.

Prior to Yuanqing, Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming had previously opened the doors to a potential BlackBerry acquisition earlier in the year, saying, “We are looking at all opportunities — RIM and many others. We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.” The company had since backed down from Ming’s statements until now.

At the same time, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has left the doors opened for a partnership or acquisition. Once a strictly closed and proprietary platform much like how Apple runs the iOS ecosystem, Heins is changing the strategy of BlackBerry by saying that he would not only be opened to licensing the BlackBerry 10 OS, but is also opened to selling the BlackBerry hardware division.

Acquiring BlackBerry may make strategic sense for Lenovo. This would help elevate the company’s mobile offerings in a juncture where PC sales are declining. Additionally, BlackBerry may pave the way for Lenovo to enter new markets, like the U.S., where it doesn’t have a smartphone presence.

Moreover, it would also help Lenovo reduce its reliance on Google. Since Google had acquired Motorola Mobility, various smartphone-makers who use the Android OS are looking to other platforms in an effort to diversify as Google is now more entrenched in the hardware business. Samsung, the world’s leading maker of Android devices, is exploring options with Tizen while HTC is re-forging its Microsoft alliance with Windows Phone. Potentially, Lenovo may be looking at a similar strategy.

Bloomberg reports that BlackBerry shares have jumped 14 percent after Lenovo’s CEO made his comments.

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