Two months ago, Toronto activist investor Victor Alboini, whose Jaguar Financial has a stake just below 5 percent in Research in Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), said the company will be gone in a year.
Wednesday, after CEO Thorsten Heins called in Wall Street bankers for strategic advice, Alboini said it's time to split the ailing BlackBerry developer in half for sale. During the day, RIM shares set a 52-week low of $10.01.
Half of it should be the cell phone business, which ought to be sold like Motorola was to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Alboini said in an interview. That could be sold to a strategic buyer like Samsung Electronics (Seoul: 5930) or HTC of Taiwan.
Now that it just took in $16 billion, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) could be a buyer as well, the Jaguar Financial investor said.
The other part? That's the enterprise platform and it could be easily sold to a buyer like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) or IBM (NYSE: IBM), he added.
Meanwhile, RIM shares plunged more than 10 percent when trading began in New York and Toronto. Shares were at $10.07, down $1.16, after the first 15 minutes. They closed down 88 cents at $10.35 or nearly 8 percent. On Tuesday, RIM's market capitalization was $5.9 billion. On Wednesday, it fell another $480 million.
On Tuesday, the shares rose as much as 3.5 percent after reports RIM might shed 2,000 more employees soon.
After the close Tuesday, the Waterloo, Ontario phone developer announced it expected to report a first-quarter loss for the period ending June 2.
Heins said the company hired JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and a unit of Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY) to explore alternatives. He didn't offer more explanation or hold an investor call.
RIM's new chairman, Barbara Stymiest, is a former Royal Bank executive.
Alboini said he had spoken to several RIM directors about change, as well as to other investors in the company. He wouldn't identify them.
To date, only Leon Cooperman of New York's Omega Advisers has said he has acquired a large stake in RIM because it's undervalued. Alboini said several of the strategic investors in RIM have been in contact but don't have any formal pact to try to take over the company
Alboini said at least three of RIM's directors should quit and be replaced by new faces. That's similar to what happened to Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP), Canada's giant transportation company where U.S. investor William Ackman's Pershing Fund placed allies on the board, or Yahoo (Nasdaq; YHOO), where Daniel Loeb's Third Point Capital took three seats on the board of the Sunnyvale, Calif., search engine.
RIM has a payroll of 16,500, with a declining market share of the smartphone sector. As high as 13.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011, share slipped to only 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012, market researcher IDC reported.