If Research In Motion Ltd were to hire an investment bank it would be to help it license its BlackBerry software or to negotiate a strategic investment, not to help it sell the company, a source close to RIM said on Thursday.

The Canadian company, which has been reported to be looking for advisors, has not yet hired any banks, the source said. The company has said it is examining a range of strategic options.

RIM declined to comment on the reports that it's looking for bankers.

RIM was once one of the continent's best performing technology companies, but its BlackBerry smartphone has been losing market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and other competitors.

RIM replaced its long-standing co-CEOs in January.

The company is now headed by ex-Siemens AG executive Thorsten Heins, who in March said the company is reviewing strategic options including licensing and partnerships. He did not rule out a sale.

RIM hopes the next-generation software it is developing for use in future BlackBerry devices will appeal to handset makers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS>, which rely heavily on Google Inc's Android software.

A banker could also be hired to help sell patents or help to negotiate a mutually beneficial strategic investment in RIM, the source said.

Jim Balsillie, one of RIM's former co-chief executives, sought a radical shift in strategy before he stepped down, two sources with knowledge of his plans said.

Balsillie's plan involved opening RIM's high-margin network business up for use by rival devices, a move that, if made, might have hurt the company's own smartphone sales.

RIM's shares were 2.2 percent higher at $13.49 on Thursday afternoon. They have lost 75 percent of their value in the past year.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway)