By Harro Ten Wolde and Euan Rocha
BARCELONA/TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry said on Wednesday that it has acquired U.K.-based cyber security consultancy Encription, moving the company deeper into the services business as it continues to morph into a more software-focused entity amid its ongoing turnaround.
The smartphone industry pioneer, which is pivoting to focus more on security software and services as the popularity of its devices have waned, said it sees massive potential in the area, with cyber security consulting currently worth an estimated $16.5 billion a year globally.
The terms of the Encription deal, which closed Friday, were not disclosed.
The acquisition will bring a team of about 40 cyber security professionals, who have helped test network vulnerabilities for both government agencies and large corporate entities, into the BlackBerry fold.
"This is a natural extension of what we do right now," said James Mackey, BlackBerry's head of corporate development. "We're very excited about this new offering and we think it is highly complementary and a nice addition to our security portfolio."
The acquisition will give BlackBerry the opportunity to also cross-sell some of its own security products, said Mackey.
BlackBerry said the new consulting services and tools, along with its existing security offerings, will help its clients to identify the latest cyber security threats, develop mitigation strategies, and implement the necessary IT security standards to defend against cyber attacks.
The acquisition of Encription is the latest in a string of software and services focused acquisitions made by BlackBerry in the last year.
In September, the company agreed to acquire rival security software maker Good Technology for $425 million. That deal came soon after its acquisition of privately-held AtHoc, a provider of secure, networked crisis communications.
BlackBerry is attempting to boost revenue from software and services to offset the revenue declines from its smartphone unit and legacy system access fees.
(Reporting by Harro Ten Wolde and Euan Rocha; Editing by Chris Reese)