Fairfax Financial, activist investor Dan Loeb trim positions in BlackBerry

TORONTO – Two major investors have trimmed their holdings in BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) — Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH) and U.S. activist fund manager Dan Loeb.

Regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that Watsa has sold 5.2 million shares in the Waterloo, Ont.,-based technology firm, while Loeb’s Third Point LLC shed the 10 million shares it purchased last year.

Once the biggest stakeholder in Blackberry, Fairfax is now the second-largest behind Primecap Management, which has a 10.4 per cent stake or nearly 54.9 million shares, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Fairfax holds nearly 46.7 million shares or a roughly 8.9 per cent stake in the smartphone maker, down from nearly 51.9 million shares it held previously, according to a quarterly filing with the U.S. regulator in February.

The insurance and investment firm led a group of investors that injected $1 billion into BlackBerry last fall in a convertible debt financing deal, including US$250 million from Fairfax.

The company later doubled its investment with the purchase of an additional US$250 million earlier this year in BlackBerry convertible debt, which pays six per cent interest annually but can be converted into BlackBerry shares if they rise above US$10.

Third Point’s divestment came as Loeb dumped shares in several technology firms, including Yahoo Inc. and Apple Inc., according to a full-year filing made on Thursday.

BlackBerry has been making significant changes to its operations under the leadership of executive chairman and chief executive John Chen.

In its most recent financial results, the company posted a first-quarter loss of US$423 million or 80 cents per share which, on an adjusted basis, was a smaller loss than analysts expected.

Chen aims to make Blackberry break even by the end of next February.

BlackBerry shares closed three cents higher at C$8.03 on Thursday at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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