A Hyderabadi has emerged the saviour for ailing smartphone maker BlackBerry, which has fallen on bad times despite pioneering mobile email access.

Prem Watsa, an alumnus of Hyderabad Public School at Begumpet, is chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings, which inked a provisional deal to acquire the handset maker. Fairfax is also BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder.

HPS alumni are excited with the news. Many of them recall Mr. Watsa to be a person who maintained a low-profile. Yashwant Ramamurthy, an architect and student of the 1968 batch, said Mr. Watsa was his senior by couple of years.

“He was quiet but very athletic. He used to play basketball very well,” Mr. Ramamurthy recalls. “He wasn’t a topper and it is quite interesting to hear about his achievements. I am proud.”

Mr. Ramamurthy recalled that Mr. Watsa’s father M.C. Watsa served as vice-principal and later as principal of HPS. They all moved to Canada. One of his sisters married a Hyderabadi but later she also moved to Canada.

Faiz Khan, a member of the Board of Governors of HPS, expressed his pleasure over Mr. Watsa’s achievement.

“We are happy to learn about his various achievements. In fact, we are looking forward to his visit to Hyderabad later in December for the 90th year celebrations of the school,” Mr. Khan said, adding that Mr. Watsa was “certainly an inspiration for the school’s kids”.

More In: Hyderabad