The new Z30 smartphone failed to save BlackBerry as sales have been far lower than expected

BlackBerry to be sold to biggest shareholder for �2.85bn

After a disastrous launch of its new Z30 smartphone, the troubled Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry has agreed to be sold to Fairfax Financial.

The news has come out after the company, headquartered in Slough, Berkshire, announced expecting a £606 million loss enforcing the lay-off of 4,500 staff.

BlackBerry has signed a letter of intent agreement with Fairfax over a 9 dollars per share cash deal.

"We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees,” said Canadian billionaire investor Prem Watsa, Fairfax's chairman and chief executive.

"We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world."

Once a pioneer of smartphone technology, BlackBerry started losing out to Apple in the terms of the technology after the 2007 iPhone launch. It was later overtaken by Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers.

The Z30 handset, launched last week, had been designed to compete with Apple. However, it failed to impress the critics and its sales have been far below the company’s expectations.

As BlackBerry’s shares lost 41 per cent of its value compared to the 2007 situation, the company set up a special committee in August to evaluate its future prospects.

"The special committee is seeking the best available outcome for the Company's constituents, including for shareholders,” said BlackBerry’s Chairwoman Barbara Stymiest.

The recent agreement with Fairfax allows the company "go shop" for alternative offers for the firm should they become available during the due diligence process, which is expected to take until 4 November.

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