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FairFacts
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Having slated the BB investment as a complete dog I am aware that there are murmurs of an imminent deal to sell the old patents relating to physical devices and messaging. If BB were to pull this off and realize over $1bil. how might that affect Fairfax’ view of their investment?

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Are you referring to this:

 

BlackBerry patent sale could be announced as soon as next month - 27th August 2021

Nine months after IAM first broke the story of a potential sale of BlackBerry’s patent portfolio, the deal to get it done may now be entering the endgame

It’s almost exactly five months since BlackBerry confirmed in a press release about its Q4 and full year 2021 financials that the company was looking to sell a large section of its patent portfolio:

During the quarter BlackBerry entered into an exclusive negotiation with a North American entity for the potential sale of part of the patent portfolio relating primarily to mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking. The Company has limited its patent monetization activities due to the ongoing negotiations. If the Company had not been in negotiations during the quarter, we believe that Licensing revenue would have been higher.

This came four months after IAM had broken the news that such a sale was being considered by the Canadian telecoms business.

Since that March announcement, though, and the contents of a 10K release, there has been very little public or, indeed, private comment on the state of play in how the transaction negotiations are panning out.

So, while it was known that the possible deal was with a North American entity and involved that part of BlackBerry’s 38,000-strong portfolio of patents “relating primarily to non-core or legacy mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking technologies”, there was no mention of a price, the stage the negotiations had reached or the identity of the possible buyer.

Inevitably, rumour finds its way into such a knowledge vacuum. Over recent months, IAM has heard all manner of things, including, most often of all, that the deal is going nowhere because the parties are so far apart on pricing; or, alternatively, that a deal is imminent and involves a single, big, Silicon Valley tech player, possibly Facebook.

Our understanding, though, is that neither of these – or the many other stories doing the rounds – are correct. Instead, although parties close to the negotiations are staying tight-lipped, we believe that things are reaching a conclusion, to the extent that an agreement could be announced around the time BlackBerry releases its FY 2022 Q2 financials towards the end of September.

The pricing has been more or less agreed, and the numbers are material. Meanwhile, the buyer is actually a group of entities that have been negotiating without an intermediary. That has created a level of complexity around the deal structure which explains why it is taking so long to finalise.

However, while there may be an announcement in the last week of next month, closure will take longer as the deal is going to require clearance from regulatory authorities in at least two countries: Canada and the US. If everything goes well, though, the sale will be signed, sealed and delivered by the end of this year.

Note – the above is not definitive, it could be wrong in places. However, what IAM is confident in saying is that the deal is progressing, pricing is not an issue, the potential buyer is not a single company and the aim is to go public with an agreement on or around the day that BlackBerry announces its next set of financials towards the end of September.

Famous last words!

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Getting a bil for the patents would be great for BB because it would bolster their cash position, which is very important for a company that had negative cash from ops in Q1 and has had virtually no cash from ops over the past couple of years (you still need to burn a little on maintenance capex and some growth capex).

 

But from a valuation standpoint?  Well, BB currently has a market cap of US$6.4B.  How much distributable cash should they be earning every year to justify that market cap?  Perhaps US$400m or US$500m?  They are nowhere near that, and it's not at all obvious that they'll get there any time soon.  So, okay, now with an additional bil of distributable cash on the balance sheet, their net market cap would be more like US$5.4B.  What do they need to earn to justify that adjusted market cap?  Maybe $350m or $450m per year, on a sustainable basis?

 

It would still be a dog, just a bit less of a dog.

 

 

SJ

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25 minutes ago, FairFacts said:

SJ, I was referring to this article

Why the Worries About the Outlook of BB Stock Are Way Overdone | InvestorPlace

 

and 3/4 of the way down.......

"RBC Capital recently suggested that BlackBerry could obtain around $1 billion from the deal, but I think that the total could easily reach $2 billion to $3 billion."

 

 

If the moons and stars align in such a way that BB is able to get US$3 bil from those patents, the arithmetic for the company's valuation actually becomes plausible (not attractive, but at least plausible).  A market cap, net of cash, of US$3.4B doesn't require a crazy income number.  It's not inconceivable that BB could eventually earn US$200m, but as they say, I'm from Missouri...

 

 

SJ

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