Thursday, August 6, 2009

For BlackBerry, it is globalisation abroad and protectionism at home

Preaching globalization abroad and protectionism at home. That seems to be the mantra of Canadian corporates.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) may have worldwide operations but at home it is preaching economic natonalism.

Shut out of the auction for Toronto-based Nortel's wireless business last month, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie sought government intervention to stop its sale to foreigners in "national interest".

The reason why the BlackBerry maker was shut out of the auction was its refusal to sign the non-disclosure agreements with Nortel which is selling its businesses piece by piece after suffering losses of $ 5 billion last and operating under bankruptcy protection since January.

The BlackBerry maker's nationalist card seems to be working.

After Swedish Ericsson's winning Nortel's wireless technology (called long-term evolution or LTE) with its $1.3 billion bid July 28, corporate and political pressure has forced the Canadian government to review the sale.

A Canadian parliamentary committee will hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the sale. The committee will hear top representatives from RIM, Ericsson, Nortel and industry about the implications of the sale for Canada.

Reports say opposition MPs would try to pressure for the Tory government to spike the sale to Ericsson.

The panel discussion follows its last year's rejection of the foreign takeover of space assets of Canada's MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) in the name of loss of key technology to foreigners, Canadian taxpayers' investment in the company, and national security.

The parliamentary committee will question Ericsson Canada president Mark Henderson about the implication for Canada of this sale. BlackBerry co-CEO and founder Mike Lazaridis may be asked to explain what implications the sale to a foreign company will have for Canada's technology sector and national security.

The opposition calls the deal "murky" and wants the government to safeguard national interest.

The same committee had last year rejected the sale of space assets of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) to America's Alliant Techsystems, forcing the government to stop foreign takeover a Canadian company for the first time in decades.

Canadian multinationals may be on the prowl for acquisitions abroad, but at home they shamelessly preach protectionism.

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