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By | Neil McAllister 21st October 2014 04:28

Who's that sniffing around BlackBerry? Oh, is it YOU again, Lenovo?

Hope springs eternal as possible purchase mooted yet again

Lenovo may be close to a deal to acquire Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry – for real, this time – according to multiple reports.

Citing anonymous sources, Canadian broadcaster CBC claimed on Monday that the Chinese equipment maker is planning to offer to snap up ailing BlackBerry at around $15 per share. The Toronto Sun and the Financial Post both concurred, saying the offer may come as soon as this week.

This isn't the first time that Lenovo has been named as a possible buyer for BlackBerry, which has seen its market share evaporate in recent years as Android and Apple's iOS have dominated the smartphone market.

The Chinese firm was last said to be sniffing around BlackBerry's Waterloo, Ontario headquarters a year ago, when the onetime smartphone leader was reportedly good enough to open its books so that Lenovo could size it up.

Since then, Lenovo has entered a deal with Google to acquire Motorola Mobility, the smartphone maker that the Chocolate factory gobbled in 2012.

If it also bought BlackBerry, Lenovo would control two respected brands that could help it gain a foothold in the mobility market, where it has struggled to compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple.

Slurping BlackBerry might not be so easy for Lenovo. Owing to BlackBerry's size, any such purchase will have to be reviewed by Canadian regulators in light of the country's Industry Canada rules.

Among the factors lawmakers would consider would be whether the sale of BlackBerry to Lenovo would provide a "net benefit" to Canada's economy, which some analysts think will be a tough sell.

One possibility might be that the Chinese firm buys only BlackBerry's handset business, leaving its enterprise software business in Canadian hands. But BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said repeatedly that he has no plans to jettison the handset business, despite it suffering heavy losses.

BlackBerry's most recent kit is the Passport, an oddball handset with a square screen that launched in September and is bound to be an acquired taste for many customers.

Still, BlackBerry shareholders are hungry for any signs of a plan that could return the firm to profitability following several successive quarters of red ink and, more recently, job cuts. News of a possible sale to Lenovo sent the company's stock soaring almost 9 per cent before Monday's closing bell, and even further in after-hours trading. ®

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