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BlackBerry reaches agreement to sell most Canadian real estate, lease some back

WATERLOO, Ont. - BlackBerry (TSX:BB) has reached an agreement to sell a majority of its Canadian real estate holdings as part of an effort to improve its business.

The company said Friday it will sell more than three million square feet of space and vacant lands and lease back a portion of the properties.

BlackBerry did not disclose the buyer or the purchase price as it said the sale was still subject to unspecified conditions.

"The successful sale of property in Canada will help us move toward our goal of continued operational efficiency," CEO and executive chairman John Chen said in a statement.

The company had announced in January that it planned to sell the majority of its Canadian real estate holdings.

BlackBerry pioneered the smartphone in 1999 and dominated for years, but since the late 2000s the company has been hammered by competition from the iPhone as well as Android-based rivals.

Under Chen — who took on the CEO post permanently late last year — BlackBerry has been working to turn around its business.

Chen said that BlackBerry is still committed to having a strong presence in Canada. It is keeping its headquarters in Waterloo, Ont.

The company said that more terms of the transaction will be announced once principal conditions are satisfied or waived.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of the company's 2015 financial year, which ends June 1, 2014.

BlackBerry has been cutting costs and restructuring its business in a bid to stay alive including a plan to eliminate of about 40 per cent of the company's workforce.

In December, the company sold a handful of buildings to the University of Waterloo for $41 million under an agreement that would allow the company to lease back some of them for up to five years.

And earlier this month, BlackBerry sold its U.S. headquarters in Irving, Texas, to Brookfield Property Group for an undisclosed amount. The company plans to lease back at least part of the six-building location.

Blackberry is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter and full-year results March 28.

Shares in the company shares rose 12 cents to C$10.73 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange in trading Friday.

The Canadian Press

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