RIM Discusses Hiring Financial Adviser to Weigh Options

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the troubled maker of the BlackBerry Smartphone, is in talks to hire a financial adviser to help it weigh strategic options.

A decision to work with at least one bank could come in the next few days, said one of the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the deliberations are private. RIM would prefer an agreement to license its mobile-phone software, and its next choice is a strategic investment, one person said. RIM doesn’t plan to sell itself.

RIM said last month that it’s weighing strategic changes after market-share losses to Apple’s iPhone and handsets that use Android software led to five straight quarters of sales shortfalls.

RIM Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said that while the Waterloo, Ontario-based company would consider a sale, that wasn’t “the main direction” he’s pursuing.

The company is considering hiring one Canadian bank and one global bank, two of the people said. RIM’s stock has declined 75 % in the past 12 months amid rivalry from Apple and Smartphone makers that rely on Google’s Android software.

Heins, who replaced co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in January, said on March 29 that RIM will redouble efforts to attract business customers while reviewing options, such as licensing, partnerships, joint ventures and other ways to “leverage” assets.

Other options include finding ways to wring more money from its messaging service and patents portfolio, which are its most valuable assets, the people said. Microsoft Corp and Samsung could be among the interested parties, as Bloomberg stated.

If RIM were to put its patents up for sale, Microsoft would be interested in taking a look, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The company is unlikely to seek a strategic investment in RIM or an outright acquisition.

RIM’s top priority is finding a bank that can advise the company on potentially licensing the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, currently under development, a person said.

RIM plans to give software developers prototypes for the first BB10 phones in early May. It’s preparing a consumer device with the software to revive U.S. sales, which plunged by more than half last quarter.

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