Lenovo has downplayed reports that the company plans to buy Research In Motion, saying that it is instead looking at acquisition opportunities in general.
If Lenovo does indeed decide it wants to court RIM, it may face significant regulatory hurdles. Canadian Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty said last week that a Lenovo-RIM deal is something the government “would look at carefully.” Flaherty also responded “absolutely” when asked whether some local technologies are off-limits to potential overseas buyers.
Canada has stopped international buyers from purchasing Canadian companies before. In 2008, the government blocked a $1.32 billion bid from U.S. Alliant Techsystems for British Columbia-based MacDonald Dettwiller & Associate’s satellite business, which marked the first time it had prevented a foreign takeover since at least 1985. On the other hand, Chinese oil company CNOOC received government approval for a $15.1 billion acquisition of Nexen in December.
Reports of a potential deal helped RIM shares jump to their highest price in a year, though other factors include the upcoming launch of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, as well as the company’s disclosure that it is considering licensing its software or selling RIM’s hardware unit.
Lenovo, which purchased IBM’s personal computer business in 2005, is focusing on acquisitions to continue growing its mobile business as it faces down competition from other tablet and cellphone makers.