BlackBerry slashes staff, warns of nearly $1 billion loss

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — BlackBerry said it will report a loss of nearly $1 billion for the second quarter and slash 40% of its global work force.

Shares of BlackBerry were halted at about 3:30 p.m. ET. When trading resumed they plunged 20%, and closed down 17% for the day. BlackBerry’s stock is down 26.5% this year.

The news of 4,500 job cuts came late Friday afternoon confirming layoff rumors that have been swirling about problems at the smartphone maker. It attributed the loss to a charge it will take to restructure its business as well as an “increasingly competitive business environment.”

It also said it will offer just four smartphones instead of six.

The company is due to report financial results before the market opens on September 27.

The company also reported last month that it is exploring ways to keep itself afloat — including a possible sale of the company.

It’s not clear what’s next for the company. BlackBerry does possess some lucrative patents that could be attractive to a potential buyer or partner. That’s a massive advantage in the competitive and highly litigious world of smartphones, and it could be attractive to a big rival like Microsoft, Apple or Samsung.

Experts predict that BlackBerry will have a tough time finding a buyer for the entire company, since no suitor is likely to be interested in the hardware business. Sale of the patent portfolio, for example, or licensing BlackBerry software may be a better option.

At least BlackBerry has some breathing room: The company has $2.6 billion in cash.

If BlackBerry’s smartphones themselves are a deal-killer, peeling off the company’s software business could help gain interest from a number of buyers. BlackBerry’s brand has lost consumer cachet, but it still holds a strong reputation for corporate security.

In addition to secure email, BlackBerry offers several multi-platform security solutions. Secure Work Space allows iPhone and Android users to toggle between personal and corporate modes, and Mobile Fusion lets corporate IT staffers manage different mobile devices through a single interface.

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