RIM hiring financial adviser to consider licensing, investment options

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Struggling Canadian smartphone maker Research in Motion is said to be in talks with a financial adviser to assist it in weighing strategic options in an effort to turn around its plummeting business.

RIM is expected to decide whether to work with a band in the next few days, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing four people familiar with the matter. They indicated that RIM would prefer an agreement to license its smartphone software, while its secondary choice would be a strategic outside investment in the company.

With those options allegedly strong possibilities for the company, one drastic option that is reportedly not on the table is a sale of the company. One source was said to have indicated that executives at RIM have no plans to sell.

RIM is said to be considering hiring one Canadian bank and one global bank to help it come to a decision.

If RIM decides to license its patents, which are considered to be the company's most valuable assets, both Microsoft and Samsung would be interested in such a deal, Tuesday's report claimed. Microsoft, however, would be unlikely to make a strategic investment in RIM, the report said.

While those options are available, executives at RIM would rather find a way to license its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, which is scheduled to launch later this year. As such, officials at RIM are focused on finding a bank that can best advise them on forging a licensing deal for BlackBerry 10.

Shares of RIM have slid 75 percent over the last year as the company has failed to adequately respond to the success of Apple's iPhone and handsets running the Google Android mobile operating system. The company reported dismal earnings late last month as three major executives, including co-founder Jim Balsillie, left the company, after reporting quarterly results so poor that the RIM had to publicly clarify it did not plan to pull out of the consumer sector.

Earlier this month, RIM lost two more top executives, and the company revealed it was weighing its strategic options. Future changes for the company could include a shift from hardware to software and services.

RIM is now even being outperformed in its home country of Canada, as for the first time ever Apple's iPhone surpassed the BlackBerry in 2011. RIM shipped 2.08 million BlackBerrys last year in Canada, while Apple shipped 2.85 million iPhones.


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