Samsung says no interest in buying troubled RIM

CIOL Bureau
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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Samsung Electronics Co said on Wednesday it was not interested in buying ailing Blackberry maker Research In Motion or licensing its operating system, refuting a tech blog report that RIM was seeking to sell itself to the South Korean technology giant.


Shares of RIM, which has been the subject of continuous takeover speculation with its stock valuation lingering at multi-year lows, jumped more than 10 percent on the report before falling back after Samsung's denial.

Product delays and profit warnings have eroded confidence in Canada-based RIM, once at the cutting edge of smartphone technology for business users, and its management.

"We haven't considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM)," Samsung spokesman James Chung said.


Chung also said Samsung had not been approached by the Canadian firm for a takeover and was not interested in licensing RIM's mobile platform.

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

After Samsung's denial, Nasdaq-listed RIM (RIMM.O) shares tumbled 5.3 percent to $16.55 in extended trading, after closing up 8 percent at $17.47. The stock rose as much as 11.1 percent.


"There's no merit (in Samsung buying RIM)," said Lee Sun-tae, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

"An acquisition would enable Samsung to have its own operating system but the cost is too high. Samsung didn't buy HP's webOS either for the same reason... BlackBerry sales are collapsing and one plus one will not become two."



Still, some analysts said there was no doubt that RIM had been talking to Samsung but that it was much more likely they had discussed licensing deals for RIM's upcoming phone software that would in turn lead to a major restructuring, according to Jefferies analyst Peter Misek.

Samsung has traditionally focused on organic growth and has no track record of major deals in recent years. In 2008, it withdrew a $5.9 billion unsolicited bid for flash memory card maker SanDisk (SNDK.O) due to the U.S. firm's deepening losses and uncertain outlook.

But it has since turned more flexible on mergers and acquisitions as the hardware-focused firm seeks to boost software capabilities to counter Apple and Google, whose Android operating system is the fastest growing mobile platform in the world.


Samsung, which has emerged as the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer on the back of booming demand for its Android-based models, said last week it plans to merge its own "bada" operating system with a platform supported by chipmaker Intel, as it seeks alternatives to Android in its devices.

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

Jefferies' Misek said Samsung and HTC might both be interested in paying RIM $10 per device to use its new operating system. That would give them access to 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.

A spokesman for RIM declined to comment on the report.

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 percent four times since December 21, when Reuters reported that and other possible buyers had considered a bid. It is still down almost 75 percent from a year ago