RIM: No buyers in sight

RIM Acquisition Prospects

Research In Motion (RIMM) has repeatedly stated that it will explore all opportunities as it looks to reverse its current slump. CEO Thorsten Heins regularly points to licensing the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform as an option, though no potential licensees have emerged at this point. RIM has already begun to identify non-essential businesses it might sell in an effort to raise cash, but larger divisions could end up on the block and RIM may even explore an outright sale. According to Town Hall Investment Research analyst Jamie Townsend, however, RIM’s prospects ahead of its BlackBerry 10 launch are bleak at best.

In a research note circulated this week, Townsend dives into potential suitors RIM may be courting if it is indeed looking to sell essential parts or all of the company. His conclusion: RIM pretty much has no hope of attracting any real interest ahead of BlackBerry 10 hitting the market next year.

Samsung (005930), which has repeatedly denied even considering a RIM acquisition, would be the most logical buyer according to Townsend. But “Samsung has its hands full,” the analyst writes, and it would probably be “reluctant to add something outside of its current focus.”

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that IBM (IBM) is considering an acquisition of RIM’s enterprise business, but Townsend doesn’t think it’s likely that the Waterloo, Ontario-based company would be willing to part with it on its own. “Should RIM sell its services and possibly software business it would also cripple its financial viability, effectively putting the hardware side and remaining assets up for sale,” he wrote.

Townsend goes on to list a number of additional possibilities — Microsoft (MSFT), Nokia (NOK), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) included — but notes various reasons why none of them are likely to be interested in RIM. In other words, RIM is in for a rough road ahead, at least until it launches BlackBerry 10 next year.

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