Lenovo downplays RIM acquisition story

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Jan 282013

Lenovo CFO Wong Waiming last week suggested that the Chinese company was open to the idea of acquiring Research In Motion in an effort to grow its mobile business as PC sales slow down. A statement sent to TheNextWeb by the company today suggests that certain statements may have been taken out context during the Bloomberg interview. Lenovo explains that Waiming’s comments were meant to be more general in scope:

In general, we do not comment on M&A rumors or speculation.

We are aware that Lenovo’s CFO [Wong] Waiming was speaking broadly about M&A strategy in a recent interview. RIM was raised as a potential target by the journalist and Mr. Wong repeatedly answered in a manner consistent with all of our previous statements on M&A strategy: Lenovo is very focused on growing its business, both organically and through M&A. When inorganic ideas arise, we explore them to see if there is a strategic fit.

With RIM open to various options to “create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders,” it is likely that some level of discussion is happening or has happened between interested parties (including Lenovo). Such talks are likely on the backburner this week as RIM prepares to launch its BlackBerry 10 devices on Wednesday.

Read more: TheNextWeb

Lenovo considering RIM acquisition

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Jan 242013

Rumblings that Research In Motion could be acquired resurfaced today courtesy of Lenovo. Company Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming said that such a move was under consideration during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

“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.”

No final decision has been taken yet but Lenovo has held talks with RIM and its bankers to discuss various options. The story coincides with comments made this week by RIM CEO Thorsten Heins that selling the company’s hardware unit remained an option.

With its PC business waning as worldwide sales decline, Lenovo is looking to other sectors to maintain its profits. Both the smartphone and tablet markets are strong and RIM happens to offer both. While organic growth remains the priority, acquistions would certainly help Lenovo establish itself in new markets.

The acquisition would not be without its challenges. RIM stock has been on a tear ahead of its launch and would likely continue their climb if the BlackBerry 10 launch is strong. It could end up being pricier than Lenovo is willing to pay. The deal would also require approval from both Canadian and U.S. regulators as well as a review by the Canadian government to determine whether it would be of “net benefit” to the country.

Lenovo is not the first company to have expressed an interest in buying all or parts of RIM. Samsung has been mentioned a few times and IBM, Microsoft, Nokia and even Amazon have all been rumoured interested parties in the past.

Read more: Bloomberg

WIND Mobile CEO to step down after selling shares to Orascom Telecom

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Jan 182013

WIND MobileOrascom Telecom and today announced that it will buy WIND Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera’s stake in the company in a move that will also see Lacavera step down as CEO. Pending approvals, Lacavera’s holding AAL Corporation will transfer its indirect 66.7% voting share in Globalive Wireless Management Corp., operating in Canada as WIND Mobile, to Orascom. When the dust settles, Orascom will have an “indirect 99.3% interest in Globalive Wireless Management Corp,” making it Canada’s first fully foreign-owned carrier.

“As an entrepreneur, my vision was to ignite change across the wireless landscape in Canada, bringing more competition, better prices and superior service to Canadians,” said Mr. Lacavera. “And that is exactly what we did. Now that I am confident WIND Mobile Canada is on a course for long-term success, I can focus on launching Globalive Capital to make targeted investments in companies that share my entrepreneurial vision and continue to support innovation through new and emerging entrepreneurs.”

Lacavera founded WIND Mobile in 2008. The carrier went live in late 2009. Its early days were marked by a number of lawsuits and accusations that it did not meet foreign ownership rules. It has weathered all the challenges and has established itself as the country’s fourth largest network with over 600,000 subscribers. Lacavera will now turn his attention to a new initiative, Globalive Capital, and will become WIND Mobile’s Honorary Chair when the deal closes.

It remains to be seen which direction WIND Mobile will go in under its new leadership. Former Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris once said that he regretted ever getting involved in Canada. And VimpelCom, Orascom’s parent company, is also said to be “less enthusiastic about its Canadian assets.”

Are more shakeups in the Canadian telecom sector coming in 2013?

Read more: WIND Mobile and The Globe and Mail

Microsoft to acquire both Nokia and NVIDIA?

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Nov 082012

MicrosoftThere have already been rumours that Microsoft could acquire Nokia but the latest round of speculation would see Microsoft not only acquire Nokia but also chipmaker Nvidia. According to InformationWeek’s Paul McDougall who is proposing this theory, Microsoft is “sick of watching Apple’s beautiful new products draw raves and set fanboy hearts afire while its partners come out with Windows-based devices that, well, let’s just say can be less than impressive.” The acquisitions would allow it to control the software but also the hardware, in much the same way as Apple does today.

Microsoft has already acknowledged that “a fundamental shift” is underway in their business. They have also confirmed their intent to launch more hardware products in the future. There are rumours that it could launch a Surface smartphone and an Xbox gaming tablet in the not-so-distant future. Acquisitions could quickly allow Microsoft to take control of a number of key areas of hardware development and ramp up development of additional devices without relying on third party partners.

Microsoft could buy Nokia for between US$10 and US$14 billion while NVIDIA could go for a bit more, perhaps US$15 billion, especially if competitors like Google decide to try to keep it away from Microsoft. With over US$66 billion in its coffers, it is in a position to manage both acquisitions.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft will move in this direction. It has already upset many hardware partners with the launch of its Surface tablet. Every additional hardware product it releases will grow that rift. Somewhere there is a tipping point where adopting an Apple-like model makes sense. Now Microsoft has to find it and decide if it has the heart for the changes it will bring about.

Read more: InformationWeek

Japan’s SoftBank acquires 70% stake in Sprint

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Oct 152012

SprintJapan’s SoftBank announced over the weekend that it plans to acquire a 70% stake in Sprint, the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S. The deal is worth US$20.1 billion, including US$8.0 billion of new capital for the carrier. Together, the two carriers will have 96 million subscribers.

SoftBank Chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son, said, “This transaction provides an excellent opportunity for SoftBank to leverage its expertise in smartphones and next-generation high speed networks, including LTE, to drive the mobile internet revolution in one of the world’s largest markets. As we have proven in Japan, we have achieved a v-shaped earnings recovery in the acquired mobile business and grown dramatically by introducing differentiated products to an incumbent-led market. Our track record of innovation, combined with Sprint’s strong brand and local leadership, provides a constructive beginning toward creating a more competitive American wireless market.”

The deal should give Sprint a leg up against larger competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Not only should it be able to accelerate its 4G LTE network deployment but it also will also be able to look at future acquisitions.

The deal has already been approved by both companies’ boards. Pending the necessary approvals and closing conditions, the merger should close sometime in mid-2013.

Read more: Sprint

T-Mobile USA to merge with MetroPCS

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Oct 032012

T-Mobile USADeutsche Telekom, T-Mobile USA’s parent company, today announced that it has signed an agreement to merge T-Mobile USA with MetroPCS, a smaller pre-paid U.S. carrier. The combined company will continue to operate under the T-Mobile brand name and led by new T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

“We are extremely pleased to announce this transaction with MetroPCS, which enhances Deutsche Telekom’s position in the expanding U.S. wireless market,” said René Obermann, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Telekom. “The T-Mobile and MetroPCS brands are a great strategic fit – both operationally and culturally. The new company will be the value leader in wireless with the scale, spectrum and financial and other resources to expand its geographic coverage, broaden choice among all types of customers and continue to innovate, especially around the next-generation LTE network. We are committed to creating a sustainable and financially viable national challenger in the U.S., and we believe this combination helps us deliver on that commitment.”

Deutsche Telekom will pay MetroPCS shareholders US$1.5 billion for a 26% share of the combined company with Deutsche Telekom retaining the other 74%.

The announcement is expected to allow T-Mobile to better compete against the larger AT&T and Verizon Wireless and help it move forward with its LTE deployment.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013, pending the usual approvals and closing conditions.

Read more: T-Mobile USA

Samsung dismisses latest RIM acquisition and licensing rumours

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Aug 082012

Research In MotionRumours of Samsung acquiring Research In Motion resurfaced today courtesy of a research note from an analyst at Jefferies & Co. Peter Misek suggests that RIM is close to wrapping up its review of its strategic options. He expects that RIM will conclude that it needs to license its BlackBerry 10 operating system to another company with Samsung being the likeliest candidate. According to his research note:

“Given recent management comments in the press, it now appears that RIM is realizing what Wall Street has been saying for some time: they are a subscale manufacturer and desperately need a partner. We believe RIM is attempting to revive discussions with Samsung regarding a BB10 licensing deal.”

Misek expects that Samsung will not move to acquire RIM until after BlackBerry 10 launches.

For its part, Samsung has once again moved to deny such rumours. A company spokesperson told AllThingsD that “Samsung Electronics has not considered the acquisition of Research in Motion or licensing BB10.” It dismissed similar rumours back in January.

Read more: AllThingsD

Rumours of Microsoft-RIM partnership resurface

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Jun 292012

Research In MotionResearch In Motion’s dismal quarter has reignited past rumours that the company could sell off a portion of its assets or partner up with someone else to survive. Citing “three sources familiar with the situation,” Reuters is reporting that RIM could form a partnership with Microsoft similar to the one that the latter has with Nokia. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer apparently reached out to RIM in recent months to discuss such an arrangement.

This partnership would see Microsoft buy a stake in RIM and fund marketing an other expenses. In return, RIM would abandon BlackBerry 10 and adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 for future devices.

The report adds that RIM’s board does not favour this option as it would put an end to the company’s independence. The board still prefers to focus on BlackBerry 10. Nokia’s own struggles to turn its fortunes around after switching to Windows Phone also likely suggest that such a move would be not be a sure fire way for RIM to get back on its feet.

RIM is also considering an outright sale or spin-off of either its hardware business or its proprietary network.

The delay of BlackBerry 10 into 2013 will only heighten the pressure on RIM’s management and board to take some kind of action.

Read more: Reuters

Qualcomm buys power management circuit maker Summit Microelectronics

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Jun 182012

QualcommNot only are smartphones getting more complex but many of their components such as larger displays and more powerful processors require more power than those of earlier generations. The problem is compounded by the fact that battery technology has not kept up, resulting in larger batteries to meet increased power demands. In a bid to make its components more power efficient, Qualcomm today announced the acquisition of Summit Microelectronics, a company specializing in programmable power integrated circuits.

“Summit Microelectronics brings key expertise, technology, products, and design wins in battery charging and DC-DC converters,” said Steve Mollenkopf, president and COO of Qualcomm. “This acquisition enhances the competitiveness of Qualcomm’s chipset solutions and enables us to provide our customers with industry leading power management and charging performance.”

Summit’s 50 or so employees will work in Qualcomm’s CDMA Technologies division.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Read more: Qualcomm

Nokia sells Vertu luxury smartphone brand

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Jun 142012

NokiaAlong with its management changes and restructuring announced today, Nokia also announced that it had sold its Vertu luxury mobile phone brand to European private equity group EQT.

“With its strong brand, undisputed category leadership and attractive growth outlook, Vertu fits well with EQT VI’s investment strategy. EQT VI is excited about the opportunity to develop Vertu as a standalone company and plans to drive the development of the luxury mobile phone category through significant investments in retail expansion, marketing and product development,” said Jan Ståhlberg, Partner at EQT Partners, Investment Advisor to EQT VI.

Nokia did not report Vertu’s financial results separately but EQT revealed that it had sales of &euro266 million (about US$330 million) in 2011.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed but Nokia will retain a 10% share in Vertu.

Read more: Nokia and EQT

Rumour: Microsoft and Samsung considering Nokia buy-out

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Jun 112012

NokiaNokia’s stock recently hovered hit a 15-year low (giving it a market capitalization of about US$4 billion), prompting new rumours of an imminent buy-out. Both Microsoft and Samsung’s names have been tied to these.

There were rumours a year ago which valued a deal at US$19 billion. According to The Register, Microsoft considered a buyout late last year, according to “well-placed sources.” Talks advanced far enough that Microsoft was given access to Nokia’s books after which it “ran away screaming.” Microsoft could have made a move to keep Nokia from being bought out by a rival but it appears that none came forward. With neither company really interested, the deal went nowhere.

This is not to say that it might not resurface. Nokia is a much cheaper company today. It is still burning through cash reserves quickly and could run out of cash. At that point, it’s likely that Nokia would be even cheaper than it is today and might be a better acquisition target. Of particular interest would likely be its intellectual property portfolio and for a company like Microsoft, the years of experience working as Microsoft’s flagship OEM.

A second report suggested that Samsung also looked at acquiring Nokia. Rumours emerged last week, giving Nokia’s stock a jolt, but Samsung today denied that there was any truth to them. “Such reports are purely speculative and are not true,” the company said.

  • Like Microsoft, it’s not the first time that Samsung’s name comes up in Nokia acquisition rumours.
  • Read more: The Register and Reuters

    WIND Mobile looking to expand through partnerships

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    Jun 062012

    WIND MobileWIND Mobile’s parent company, Globalive Wireless Management, is looking to expand its network by partnering with regional telecommunications and cable companies. It is already talking to a number of regional players about agreements to share networks, sites and marketing for its WIND Mobile brand.

    In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Tony Lacavera, Globalive’s chairman and chief executive officer, said, “It’s never been more clear that new entrants have to work together. We can’t get enough spectrum in the next auction, so we have to find ways to partner.”

    Canada has a number of smaller regional operators that could help WIND Mobile expand its network. Among those are EastLink in the Maritimes, Vidéotron in Quebec and Shaw Communications in the West.

    Lacavera also did not exclude wireless outright spectrum purchases from other new entrants in a bid to secure more spectrum.

    WIND Mobile now has over 430,000 subscribers. It operates in 12 Canadian markets and has plans to continue expansion in 2012. It had been rumoured to be looking to acquire Mobilicity late last year.

    Read more: The Globe and Mail

    Google acquires Mike and Maaike design firm

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    May 242012

    GoogleBloomberg has learned that Mike and Maaike, the firm that helped design the first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1, has been acquired by Google. The move comes just as Google closed its Motorola acquisition, suggesting a deeper focus on hardware design in the future. Motorola’s new CEO, Dennis Woodside, added: “Google has always been interested in hardware. The natural next step is for us to get even more serious and to really go for it.”

    Aside from the G1, Mike and Maaike also worked with Google on an earlier prototype. This device, sporting a QWERTY keyboard, was used by Google employees and software developers as a “testbed device for the Android operating system. Its other customers include Belkin and Microsoft.

    Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

    Read more: Bloomberg

    Google closes Motorola acquisition

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    May 222012

    GoogleGoogle today announced that it has closed its US$12.5 billion Motorola acquisition. The move comes after China approved the deal only days ago. As rumoured, Sanjhay Jha has stepped down as CEO with Googler Dennis Woodside taking over the role. In announcing the news, Google CEO Larry Page wrote:

    Motorola is a great American tech company that has driven the mobile revolution, with a track record of over 80 years of innovation, including the creation of the first cell phone. We all remember Motorola’s StarTAC, which at the time seemed tiny and showed the real potential of these devices. And as a company who made a big, early bet on Android, Motorola has become an incredibly valuable partner to Google.

    Motorola’s new CEO, Dennis Woodside, added:

    “Our aim is simple: to focus Motorola Mobility’s remarkable talent on fewer, bigger bets, and create wonderful devices that are used by people around the world.”

    It remains to be seen what ultimately happens to Motorola. Google has indicated that it will run it as a separate business. There have been rumours of layoffs and even a sale of many of its assets to Huawei. One thing is clear, Google is today 17,000 patents richer.

    Read more: Google

    Google’s Motorola acquisition receives Chinese regulatory approval

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    May 202012

    GoogleGoogle yesterday announced that it had received Chinese regulatory approval for their proposed merger. It was the last regulatory hurdle that the two companies needed before closing the acquisition. Bloomberg received confirmation from both companies with Motorola’s statement saying:

    “We are pleased the deal has received approval in all jurisdictions. We expect to close imminently.”

    China’s approval comes with the condition that Android remain free and open for the next five years.

    The deal not only makes Google an Android manufacturer, a move that has some of its other partners nervous, but it also gives it some 17,000 Motorola patents and and another 7,500 patent applications. It should be able to use these to defend Android in a number of legal actions brought about by competitors.

    Google received similar approvals from the European Commission and U.S. Department of Justice back in February.

    Read more: Bloomberg