Fairfax seeking $1 bln equity for BlackBerry deal – Reuters

(Reuters) – Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd was seeking over $1 billion in equity investments from institutional investors to back its preliminary $4.7 billion plan to acquire BlackBerry Ltd, the Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday.

Citing unnamed people familiar with the discussions, the newspaper said Fairfax Chief Executive Prem Watsa has personally contacted several leading Canadian and U.S. pension and private equity funds to win support for the bid to buy the struggling smartphone maker.

But the sources said that as of Tuesday, only one pension fund, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, was seriously considering joining a potential takeover consortium.

The paper said Watsa was pitching the potential acquisition as a leveraged buyout that would be financed with more than $3 billion in bank loans, $1 billion in equity from institutions and Fairfax’s nearly 10 per cent stake in BlackBerry.

If it falls short of raising the equity to help finance the potential takeover, the Globe said Fairfax intends to arrange a short-term bridge loan that could be repaid with BlackBerry’s cash holdings of about $2.6 billion.

Officials with Fairfax, BlackBerry and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan could not be reached immediately for comment.

Fairfax’s $4.7 billion, or $9 a share, proposal was announced on Monday. BlackBerry, which put itself on the block in August, warned last Friday of slumping sales and a big operating loss.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe) ((jeffrey.hodgson@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 416 941 8099)(Reuters Messaging: jeffrey.hodgson.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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