BlackBerry puts its Kanata real estate up for sale

Mark
Mark Brownlee
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Smartphone maker BlackBerry has announced plans to sell of thousands of square feet of office space it owns in Kanata in an effort to free some of the money it has tied up in the buildings.

The BlackBerry Z10 device.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company said in a press release issued late Tuesday that the sale is part of a decision to “strategically divest” the majority of its properties in Canada.

The plan, which the company said will consist entirely of selling vacant assets and leasing back whatever other space is sold, will lead to the sale of over three million square feet of space across the country.

The properties up for sale include its holdings in the Kanata North Business Park, according to a brochure prepared by brokerage firm CBRE.

Those properties, which include Class A buildings located at 4000 and 5050 Innovation Dr., account for about 327,000 square feet of space and an additional 10.68 acres of development land.

However the real estate sell-off does not mean that the smartphone maker is trying to get out of its current locations entirely, company officials say.

“BlackBerry remains committed to being headquartered in Waterloo and having a strong presence in Canada along with other global hubs,” said John Chen, BlackBerry CEO and executive chair, in a statement.

“This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry’s financial flexibility, and will provide additional resources to support our operations as our business continues to evolve.”

The company declined to say how much it intends to make from the real estate sell-off.

BlackBerry pioneered the smartphone in 1999 and dominated the market for years but has since been eclipsed by Apple's iPhone as well as Android-based rivals.

Under new CEO Mr. Chen, the company has been working to turn around its business and last month entered into a five-year partnership with a Taiwanese company in an agreement that will offload much of its manufacturing costs.

On Monday, the company's shares rose more than eight per cent after it got a vote of confidence from the U.S. Defence Department, which said about 80,000 BlackBerrys would be deployed on its new mobile device management system by the end of the month.

The number represents about 98 per cent of the initial haul of devices, which includes another 1,800 devices like Apple's iPad, iPhone and tablets and phones on the Android operating system.

The disclosure last week also shows the U.S. government still considers BlackBerry part of its stringent security infrastructure.

–With files from The Canadian Press

Organizations: CBRE, Apple, U.S. Defence

Geographic location: Waterloo, Canada, Kanata Kanata North Business Park U.S.

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