Wed, Oct 16, 2013 - Page 15 News List

BlackBerry ad campaign trys to reassure customers

‘CHALLENGING TIMES’:An open letter from the troubled smartphone maker said the firm has substantial cash and no debt, as it buys more time for its new phone

AP, TORONTO

BlackBerry is publishing an open letter in major publications around the world in a bid to reassure customers that they can count on the distressed smartphone company.

The letter was released on Monday on Twitter and was to be published in 30 publications in nine countries yesterday.

It acknowledges “these are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation,” but says “you can continue to count on BlackBerry.”

The missive says BlackBerry has substantial cash and is debt-free, but it does not mention that the company is for sale, and could be broken up and sold in pieces.

BlackBerry announced last month that Fairfax Financial Holdings, which owns 10 percent of the company, signed a letter of intent that “contemplates” buying BlackBerry for US$9 a share, or US$4.7 billion. Fairfax, BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, is trying to attract other investors.

The stock is trading well below Fairfax’s tentative offer on fears that the deal will not go through or that the final price will be lower.

“We’re getting a lot of queries and interest from loyal consumers, from all of our enterprise customers and big government institutions,” BlackBerry regional managing director for North America Andrew MacLeod said in an interview.

MacLeod said it is important to communicate with customers, while the company goes through a difficult restructuring. He declined to comment on the sale process because a special committee of board members is examining that.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry recently announced 4,500 layoffs, or 40 percent of its global workforce, and reported a quarterly loss of nearly US$1 billion.

“Candidly, we haven’t seen the level of the traction in certain markets that we had hoped,” MacLeod said. “It takes time for new platforms to get traction and we think we need to give BlackBerry 10 more time in the marketplace in order to get to the level of volume that we had hoped.”

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