Lenovo approaches BlackBerry with buyout bid

Chinese technology manufacturer Lenovo has approached BlackBerry in a bid to purchase the beleaguered mobile firm.

Citing insider sources, the Wall Street Journal suggests that the Chinese firm, the world's largest manufacturer of PCs, is actively considering making the acquisition.

BlackBerry has struggled in the mobile market since being edged out of its traditional niches by competitors Apple and Samsung. The Canadian firm recently began scaling back its consumer focus in favour of emphasis on the professional market. However, the rise of bring your own device (BYOD) policies in the workplace has led to more employees selecting the more consumer-friendly Samsung and Apple products as their work device of choice.

After peaking at $145 (£90) in 2008, BlackBerry's stock has degraded by a shocking 94 per cent.

The company, formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), has stared into a bleak financial future since this year's launch of the BlackBerry 10 platform failed to redress its decline.

Since then, the firm's fortunes have gone from bad to worse, with a leading investor filing a lawsuit against BlackBerry in recent weeks for making false claims about the company's viability.

Lenovo, on the other hand, is proving a model of success from the world's second-largest economy. The firm has operations in more than 60 countries and sells its products in around 160. Since entering the smartphone market in 2012, Lenovo has rocketed to the number two smartphone vendor in mainland China, selling more phones than Apple in its homeland.

Some commentators have already argued that a potential Chinese acquisition of BlackBerry could face scrutiny, not just in Ottowa, but also in the US, due to potential national security concerns. Cfius, an interagency panel, is responsible for reviewing these kind of acquisitions for possible threats to security.

It makes sense: with the NSA exercising an effectively free rein over the communications records of US-based telecoms and communications companies, you can't blame the three-letter agencies for being anxious of something similar happening out of Beijing.

However, Lenovo has already made significant acquisitions in the US. In 2005, it bought IBM's PC business for $1.25 billion (£770.69 million).

The disclosures come just days after BlackBerry sought to reassure its investors and customers, in an open letter insisting, "You can still count on us."

Spokespeople for both companies have refused to comment on the reports, but with things getting increasingly desperate for BlackBerry, this might be one offer they won't want to turn down.