Skadden, Canada’s Torys on call as BlackBerry review could end in sale

BlackBerry has turned to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Canadian firm Torys for advice on a review that could result in the sale of the business.

The Canadian telecoms company announced on Monday (12 August 2013) that it had formed a special committee to explore the possibility of a sale. Various other options are also on the cards, including possible joint ventures or strategic partnerships. 

The struggling smartphone maker has been fighting for market share lost to rivals such as Apple’s iPhone over recent years. BlackBerry use among US attorneys dropped from nearly 50 per cent to 31 per cent last year, according to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2012 Technology Survey (2 August 2012), with almost all of those users switching to the iPhone.

However sales were given a boost earlier this year after Clifford Chance agreed to buy 1,600 BlackBerry smartphones, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld agreed to buy 500 and longstanding legal adviser Torys signed a contract for an unknown amount.

The smartphone maker said in a statement that Skadden and Torys had been called in to jointly advise the committee, alongside financial adviser JP Morgan. It is not known who is leading within each firm, both of which are understood to be longtime advisers to BlackBerry.

Timothy Dattels, chairman of BlackBerry’s special committee, said: “Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”

For analysis on the in-house legal teams at technology companies including Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Cisco, see last year’s Transatlantic Elite report.