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RIM shares rise as Lenovo talks of possible acquisitions

RIM's BlackBerry device

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Research In Motion Ltd. shares traded higher Thursday afternoon following comments by a Lenovo Group Ltd. executive that the Chinese computer company was looking at possible acquisitions, including RIM.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone company, riding momentum in the lead-up to its BlackBerry 10 launch at the end of January, implemented a strategic review as its financial situation worsened because of declining sales in 2012. The BlackBerry maker said it was considering strategic alternatives to its current business model, including possible partnerships or licensing opportunities and RIM's chief executive officer, Thorsten Heins, has previously said he was not ruling out a sale of the company.

In an interview with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lenovo's chief financial officer, Wong Wai Ming, said that Lenovo had spoken with RIM and the company's bankers about "various combinations or strategic ventures." The news service added that the executive declined to say when the Beijing-based company would come to a decision whether to make a bid for RIM.

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"We are looking at all opportunities – RIM and many others," Mr. Wong said, according to Bloomberg.

A RIM spokesman on Thursday said the company remained focused on launching its new lineup of phones.

"Thorsten Heins has made it very clear that we are focused on the delivery of BlackBerry 10, which we will launch with events around the world on Jan. 30," Nick Manning said in an e-mailed statement. "As he said on our most recent results conference call on Dec. 20, we continue to examine all available options to 'create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders.' We do not have anything new to report on our strategic review at this time."

On Thursday, RIM shares closed up nearly 3 per cent, closing at $17.80 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock, rallying on momentum leading into the launch of RIM's new BlackBerry 10 smartphones on Jan. 30, has nearly tripled since scraping lows of around $6 in September, 2012. RIM's volatile shares, however, have jumped as much as 10 per cent or more in recent weeks on single research notes, as analysts upgrade their price targets going into the smartphone's launch.

RIM, whose stock has fallen from a high of around $150 to its current price of about $17, has had many rumoured suitors over the past year. Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Nokia Corp. have all reportedly taken a look at a potential purchase of RIM. Microsoft and Nokia previously looked at buying RIM but were scared off by sharp sales declines in the United States, a source familiar with the matter previously told The Globe and Mail.

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