#CyberFLASH: Canada – China’s Lenovo raises security fears with possible bid for BlackBerry

national-security-blackberry

Lenovo Group Ltd. is joining the list of suitors considering a bid for BlackBerry Ltd., raising concerns that the Canadian company’s ultra-secure communications network for the global elite might end up owned by a firm based in China.

BlackBerry provides mobile phones and an encrypted wireless network to many of the world’s largest corporations and most Western governments, including top officials in the United States and the country’s military – and would likely draw scrutiny in Washington and Ottawa.

If Lenovo’s reported interest resulted in a deal, the takeover attempt would be subject to a tough regulatory review in Canada. The federal government has killed several foreign takeovers under the Investment Canada Act.

That act permits reviews of deals worth more than $344-million. The government has also granted itself broader powers to halt takeovers of Canadian firms by foreign state-owned companies, particularly those from China. And Ottawa recently barred a bid for Winnipeg-based telecom company MTS Allstream by an Egyptian-led group on national security grounds.

“If the Egyptian company raised some red flags for the Canadian government, we should have red fireworks going off if a Chinese company wants to buy BlackBerry,” said Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former head of Asia-Pacific at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and chief executive of the Northgate Group, an Ottawa-based cyber-security firm. “BlackBerry is the prime phone used by all government officials and top officials… For that reason alone, it shall not and could not be sold to a foreign entity that is not within the realm of [our] close network of friends.”

Read more on Globe and Mail 

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