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BlackBerry CEO says he'd sell firm's message service for $19 billion

Media IndustryBlackBerryWhatsApp Inc.

Following Facebook's acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp last week for $19 billion, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said he would not hesitate to sell his company's messaging service for that much money.

"I work for the shareholder. Standard answer. If somebody comes to me with $19 billion, I would definitely sell it. I would recommend to the board to take it," Chen told CNBC.

Since the Canadian phone maker failed to attract last year what it would have considered to be an adequate buyer, BlackBerry has placed a great deal of its focus on expanding its BlackBerry Messenger brand.

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The company has launched BBM apps for the iPhone and Android devices, and this week, it was announced that BBM would come preloaded on a handful of upcoming Nokia smartphones.

But BBM's valuation is nowhere near that of WhatsApp.

Facebook is going to pay $19 billion for WhatsApp because the service has more than 450 million users around the world. BBM has just 85 million users.

"I know there's a lot of value in messaging businesses," Chen said. "I think the right thing to do is to expand that and market as big as possible and then I [will] worry about the valuation later."

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