Canada needs to save Research in Motion, the country’s flagship high-tech company and, arguably, one of the country’s most important economic engines.
Putting aside speculation about who may want to acquire RIM in the wake of Google’s $12.5-billion plan to purchase of Motorola Mobility, the fact remains the Canadian government needs to be pro-active to protect and bolster RIM’s status as a world-class technology company.
Whatever tools at the federal government’s disposal should be used to make sure RIM stays vibrant as an independent company or division of another company with a strong Canadian presence.
As much as I’m not a big believer in government intervention economically, RIM is a special situation because it plays a crucial role within the Canadian economy – not only as a large employer but a company that spins off many start-ups by ex-RIM employees who want to use their expertise and wealth.
If the Canadian government, however, decides not to pro-actively help RIM, it risks having another Nortel on its hands. This is not to suggest RIM is going to seek bankruptcy protection but it may need the government’s help.
For those of you with short memories, Nortel was allowed to disintegrate and be sold off in pieces while the Canadian government did squat other than make some noise about reviewing a few of the deals, which was mostly about political optics.
There was a role for the government to play to keep Nortel alive, even if meant transforming it into a smaller, more focused company. If something had been done to help Nortel come out of bankruptcy protection, Canada would still have a high-tech leader that would employ thousands of people and have a kick-ass patent portfolio.
Instead, Nortel was allowed to die, punctuated by the $4.5-billion sale of its patent portfolio. It was an embarrassing end to a company that had been a global technology leader.
With Nortel’s demise fresh in the federal government’s mind, it should be wise for Ottawa to be pro-active, creative and engaged to keep RIM alive and kicking.