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RIM shares jump on report of sale efforts

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CIOL Bureau
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NEW YORK, USA: Shares of Research In Motion jumped more than 10 per cent on Tuesday after a tech blog said the BlackBerry maker was actively seeking to sell itself to South Korean smartphone rival Samsung Electronics.

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The Boy Genius Report website cited an unidentified source saying that RIM co-chief executive Jim Balsillie was meeting with companies interested in either licensing its software or buying a part or all of RIM, with Samsung leading the pack.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek later said the report of the Samsung talks was likely true but that licensing deals for RIM's upcoming phone software was a more likely scenario and would in turn lead to a major restructuring.

A Samsung spokesman and a RIM spokeswoman both declined to comment.

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RIM has been the target of a steady stream of takeover speculation in recent months as its market valuation has crawled along at multi-year lows. Product delays and profit warnings have eroded confidence in RIM and its management.

Samsung, which has emerged as the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer on the back of booming demand for its Android-based models, said on Tuesday it plans to merge its own "bada" operating system with an open-source platform supported by chipmaker Intel.

Android, the world's most popular smartphone operating system, is owned by Google and used by a slew of handset manufacturers, including Motorola Mobility and HTC, as well as Samsung.

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Jefferies' Misek said Samsung and HTC might both be interested in paying RIM $10 per device to use its fresh operating system. That would give them access tp the 75 million-plus BlackBerry users and limit their dependence on Android.

He said RIM could announce a deal within three months and the appointment of a new chairperson could speed up the process.

Balsillie and fellow chief executive Mike Lazaridis also share a role as chairman of the board, but a committee made up of the rest of RIM's board is due to report on possible changes to the unusual structure by the end of January after pressure from investors.

RIM's stock has jumped more than 6 per cent four times since December 21, when Reuters reported that Amazon.com and other possible buyers had considered a bid.

RIM's Nasdaq-listed shares were up 10.3 per cent at $17. 83 by early Tuesday afternoon, while the Toronto-listed stock rose 7.6 per cent to C$ 18.15 , adding to its gains on Monday when U.S. markets were closed.

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