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RIM draws interest from IBM. Is a deal imminent?

The enterprise services unit is Big Blue's main acquisition target, according to a report

According to a published report from the Bloomberg News Service, the enterprise services unit of Research in Motion,(TSX: RIM) the Waterloo, Ont.-based mobile maker’s most valuable asset, is now an acquisition target of IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Bloomberg reported that two sources “familiar with the situation” said IBM is interested in acquiring this asset RIM’s enterprise services unit operates a network of secure servers that support Blackberry smartphones. Bloomberg estimated the value of the unit at between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion citing a source from Berenberg Bank.

This news comes on the heels of RIM announcing that it hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and RBC Capital Markets to figure out its next move.

Company CEO Thorsten Heins went on the record to say that RIM is looking to partner or license its technology to other companies and it’s not interested in selling.

“There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” Heins told the CBC last May.

RIM reported a quarterly loss of $518 million and Heins has admitted the company is in a transition period.

“This company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral,” he said. “Yes, it is very, very challenged at the moment – specifically in the U.S. market. The way I would describe it: we’re in the middle of a transition.”RIM also announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs over the next nine months, representing 30 per cent of its workforce. It has also delayed the launch of its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 smartphones until 2013.Despite speculation that Amazon.com, Samsung or even Larry Ellison was interested in acquiring all of RIM no talks are currently being held. And, IBM does not comment on rumours or speculation.

Analysts have determined that if there is a sale of assets or the entire company it will be late into 2013 as RIM is fully behind the launch of Blackberry 10 and will wait and see how the market responds to its new offering.

RIM demonstrated Blackberry 10 to the public at the Blackberry World event in February. IDC analyst says there is a fair bit to be excited about. For example, there is a big functionality boost with Blackberry 10; the virtual keyboard is outstanding along with big improvements to the camera and apps.