‘We wanted to take the ‘For Sale’ sign down, get John Chen as executive chairman’ – Prem Watsa

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Prem Watsa, now lead director at BlackBerry spoke lengthy about the plan for BlackBerry and why getting John Chen as executive chairman as well as interim CEO was the right choice for them. Mr. Watsa has been a long time investor and partner with BlackBerry, his plan to keep BlackBerry together rather than break it apart is a major focus he has.

As far as reaching the right deal for his company’s investment and BlackBerry here is what Prem Watsa had to say:

“We looked at it and said, ‘Hey, a high-debt situation was not appropriate,’” “We wanted to take the ‘For Sale’ sign down, get John Chen as executive chairman as soon as we could and finance it for the long-term,” Mr. Watsa said. “That’s effectively what we’ve done.”

“Why would you buy a BlackBerry system or a BlackBerry phone if you think the company is not going to survive? Well, that’s out. BlackBerry is here to stay,” he said, adding “There’s no question” the very public strategic review and uncertainty around it hurt the company’s business prospects.

“Convertible debt at 6 per cent is just the appropriate financing,” Mr. Watsa said. “This financing will help us go through that [cash burn period] and for John to have the financial soundness to build this company over time.”

John Chen already came out and said the BlackBerry handset market will continue, the quest to regain BlackBerry’s customer and enterprise user base will continue, will take time, but the investment and the right people are now on board.

Source: Globe and Mail

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