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Skadden and Shearman take lead roles as struggling BlackBerry agrees $4.7bn sale

Following dashed hopes that BlackBerry’s new handset would reverse its falling fortunes, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Shearman & Sterling have been assigned as lead advisors as the struggling smartphone maker sells its business to its largest investor, Fairfax Financial, for $4.7bn.

Skadden, which was instructed last month by BlackBerry as it reviewed its strategic options, is being led by New York corporate partners Stephen Arcano, Neil Stronski and Richard Grossman. Canadian firm Torys is also advising BlackBerry, led by corporate finance partner David Chaikof.

Toronto-headquartered Fairfax has turned to Shearman & Sterling, led by head of New York’s M&A group Scott Petepiece, capital markets partner Jason Lehner and counsel Sean Skiffington from Shearman’s global M&A group. McCarthy Tétrault is also providing legal advice led by Toronto senior partner Garth Girvan alongside US markets leader David Tennant.

In April Skadden represented Research In Motion (RIM) — the maker of BlackBerry — in the dismissal of a securities class action that alleged it made false statements regarding its financial condition and business prospects.

Shearman & Sterling also has a long-standing relationship with its client and in July represented Fairfax in its acquisition of pet insurance provider Hartville Group.

Under the deal to acquire BlackBerry, the Canadian investor has signed a letter of intent agreeing to pay $9 in cash per BlackBerry share. Due diligence is expected to be complete by November 4. The sale comes as, despite remaining popular with much of the business community, the smartphone group has lost considerable market share to rivals such as Apple’s iPhone.

Chair of BlackBerry’s board of directors, Barbara Stymiest, said: ‘The special committee is seeking the best available outcome for the company’s constituents, including for shareholders.’