Chinese PC maker Lenovo (HKG:0992) has signed a nondisclosure agreement to look at BlackBerry’s financial books, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Both companies declined to comment, but the agreement adds Lenovo the list of possible bidders for Canada’s BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), which went up for sale on August 12.
WSJ says bids are expected to start coming in early next month. If Lenovo bought BlackBerry, it would be one of the most notable instances of a Chinese company buying a Western company.
Lenovo currently sells more smartphones than BlackBerry with 4.7 percent of global smartphone sales, thanks in large part to its home market where it enjoys a 9.8 percent smartphone market share, according to the IDC.
BlackBerry has next to zero percent market share in China due to regulatory hurdles.
Even if Lenovo has the cash and wants to buy BlackBerry, the Canadian government could block the acquisition. WSJ says Canada’s Conservative government rejected three foreign takeovers of Canadian assets since it came to power seven years ago. Any bid over $334 million has to pass a government review.
Canadian insurance firm Fairfax Holdings and BlackBerry struck preliminary buyout deal last month worth $4.7 billion, but it still hasn’t officially gone through. Fairfax reportedly lowered its bid later in September.
Rumors have been floating around regarding negotiations between RIM (BlackBerry’s parent company) and Lenovo since January.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)