Prem Watsa’s acquisition of BlackBerry did not fail

Much has been written about Prem Watsa’s failed acquisition of BlackBerry, and most of it strikes me as being wrong. Especially the part about it having failed.

In September 2013 Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial announced its intention to take BlackBerry private for $4.7 billion. While Fairfax already owned around 10% of BlackBerry they wanted to take the company private without investing any additional money of their own. This arrangement would have allowed Fairfax to have control over how BlackBerry was run.

While the full amount of money was never raised it is seems safe to say that Fairfax has managed to take control of BlackBerry without investing any additional money of their own. In a November 2013 announcement Fairfax effectively used their 10% ownership in order to take control of the company, by placing it under their own hand-picked CEO and putting forth their own vision for the future of BlackBerry. Granted, Fairfax did give BlackBerry a loan, but it is hard to give Prem Watsa too much credit for that given the very health 6% interest rate that Fairfax is getting in return.

At the end of the day it is hard to say that Prem Watsa didn’t get exactly what he wanted out of the deal insofar as that he was able to leverage his 10% ownership into complete control of the company. While this looks to be in the best long term interest of Fairfax financial, I have to question whether or not it is best for the users and developers of BlackBerry phones.