By Tara Lachapelle & Brooke Sutherland
BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY), once valued at $83 billion, may be stuck with the cheapest valuation ever for a North American technology or telecommunications takeover.
The smartphone maker said yesterday it reached a tentative agreement for a $4.7 billion buyout by a group led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FFH), its biggest shareholder. Including net cash, the proposal values the Waterloo, Ontario-based company at an 80 percent discount to its book value and just 0.17 times its sales, the cheapest revenue multiple on record among similar-sized North American telecommunications or technology acquisitions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
While the company has six weeks to seek other bids, Pacific Crest Securities said investors should be happy to get the $9 a share that Fairfax is offering. Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins, who took over in January 2012, didn’t publicly disclose the company was for sale until last month after almost a year of canvassing potential buyers. Now, BlackBerry has posted a string of quarterly sales declines and lost almost $79 billion in market value as it fell behind Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Last week, BlackBerry said it will cut a third of its workforce and take a writedown of as much as $960 million….