After a Bloomberg report quoted Lenovo’s CFO Wong Waiming as saying that it was interested in acquiring Research In Motion, the Chinese PC maker has issued a statement downplaying the significance of the quote.
In general, we do not comment on M&A rumors or speculation.
We are aware that Lenovo’s CFO [Wong] Waiming was speaking broadly about M&A strategy in a recent interview. RIM was raised as a potential target by the journalist and Mr. Wong repeatedly answered in a manner consistent with all of our previous statements on M&A strategy: Lenovo is very focused on growing its business, both organically and through M&A. When inorganic ideas arise, we explore them to see if there is a strategic fit.
Indeed, it is easy to see how the quote could have been taken out of context since the question appeared to be phrased to get a specific response about RIM, while Wong was apparently trying to speak in broader terms.
For its part, RIM has also issued a statement regarding the report:
[RIM CEO] 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 January 30th. As he said on our most recent results conference call on December 20th, 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.
A Lenovo acquistion of RIM could make a lot of sense because it would strengthen its mobile position overseas, similar to its move to purchase IBM’s ThinkPad brand in 2005. It would, however, be scrutinized by the Canadian government. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said the government would “look carefully” at such a deal if it did arise.
Lenovo would also potentially benefit from a deal to license RIM’s mobile operating system, as it is investing heavily in its mobile division. The BlackBerry platform is still held in high regard in China and throughout Asia, so Lenovo-branded BlackBerry smartphones or tablets would likely sell quite well.
RIM has been struggling to right its ship. It posted a net loss of $114 million in the third quarter of 2012 with revenue of $2.7 billion. It has hung its hopes on the launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 OS later this week, and it is actively courting developers to submit apps for the platform. Last week, it made a nod toward its corporate roots with the release of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 for managing BlackBerry and non-BlackBerry devices.
Lenovo, on the other hand, is on a tear, rising to become the world’s largest PC maker by some estimates. The company recently announced a ThinkPad Chromebook aimed at the education market. Its mobile division has seen ready adoption in its home market of China, but it has yet to replicate its success overseas.
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