Canada’s “Warren Buffett” has reportedly emerged as the front-runner to acquire the country’s beaten-down smartphone maker BlackBerry (BBRY).
The developments come as BlackBerry and its advisers have scrambled to move ahead with a rapid sales process aimed at finding a buyer by November.
According to London’s Sunday Times, BlackBerry shareholder Prem Watsa is closing in on a rescue deal for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company and has already assembled billions in backing from Canada’s largest pension funds for a bid.
Watsa runs Fairfax Financial Holdings, which holds a 10% stake in BlackBerry, making it the company’s largest shareholder.
While Fairfax didn’t respond to a request for comment, a BlackBerry spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on speculation surrounding Prem Watsa and his efforts.”
Wall Street was encouraged by the report, bidding BlackBerry’s shares 3.32% higher to $11.20 on Monday. The shares have soared more than 20% since the company opened the door to a sale.
Previous reports indicated Watsa could end up buying BlackBerry after the slumping smartphone maker paved the way for a sale by announcing plans to explore strategic options last month.
Watsa stepped down from BlackBerry’s board last month, citing “potential conflicts that may arise during the process.” At the time, Fairfax said it had “no current intention” of dumping its 9.89% stake.
The smartphone world has been rocked by a slew of major transactions in recent weeks, including a $130 billion Verizon Wireless deal and a $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s (NOK) mobile phone business by Microsoft (MSFT).