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Fairfax doubles BlackBerry debt holding

Canadian smartphone maker’s largest shareholder snaps up a further $250m in debentures

BlackBerry issued the first $1bn in debentures late last year, following its withdrawal from plans to self itself.
BlackBerry issued the first $1bn in debentures late last year, following its withdrawal from plans to self itself.

BlackBerry's largest shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is to double its holding of the Canadian smartphone vendor's debt by purchasing another $250m in convertible debt notes.

BlackBerry issued the first $1bn in debentures late last year, following its withdrawal from plans to self itself. Initial buyers included Fairfax, which owns a 9.9% stake in BlackBerry, and Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Holding.

BlackBerry was a smartphone pioneer, but competition from consumer-focused devices caused the company to shed market capitalisation, tumbling from a peek of over $80bn to under $4bn.

After announcing in September that it was looking for a buyer, it received only one formal bid, from Fairfax, but the $4.7bn offer was widely seen as an undervaluation of the company. Unsuccessful attempts to find alternative buyers culminated in the abandonment of the sale. BlackBerry's board then arranged for chief executive Thorsten Heins to step down and appointed ex-Sybase boss John Chen as CEO.

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