Salesforce could be acquisition target for Oracle, Microsoft

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Salesforce could be acquisition target for Oracle, Microsoft

Salesforce.com shares soared 12 percent Wednesday US time, to US$74.65, after Bloomberg News reported that the cloud computing software pioneer could be a takeover target.

Bloomberg reported that Salesforce.com is "working with financial advisors after being approached by a potential acquirer." The Bloomberg report quoted an unidentified source as saying "bankers may help rebuff any suitor or work out an eventual sale."

With a market capitalisation of US$47.01 billion, a Salesforce.com acquisition would be one of the largest technology acquisitions ever. Such a deal, analysts said, could only be financed by one of a handful of Fortune 100 companies such as Oracle, Microsoft, IBM or SAP.

Several Wall Street analysts cited Oracle as the most likely buyer, while a report in Fortune centred on Microsoft as the most likely company eyeing Salesforce.

Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce.com all refused to comment.

A deal between Salesforce.com and Oracle is very possible, wrote Daniel Ives, an analyst with financial analyst firm FBR Capital Markets, in a research report.

Salesforce.com's current share price of about US$75 would give the company an enterprise value of nearly US$50 billion, making it "one of the largest acquisitions in enterprise software history", wrote Ives.

While HP, IBM and Microsoft are all potential suitors of Salesforce.com, Oracle is the most realistic potential purchaser of the company, Ives wrote.

One big driver of such a deal would be Oracle's need to go big in the cloud, said Ives."Oracle is desperate to establish itself as a leader in the cloud, and acquiring the leading cloud company and bringing on board a visionary leader in Marc Benioff would help toward accomplishing this goal," he wrote.

Other reasons include the fact that Oracle needs to make a "transformative move" in the face of competitive pressures from a wide range of SaaS industry leaders; the fact Salesforce.com was built on the Oracle database, which would ease technology integration; the presence of several former Oracle veterans including CEO Marc Benioff and President Keith Block at Salesforce.com; and the fact that Oracle has the financial resources to make such an acquisition work.

"Ultimately, we view this more as Oracle trying to make a bold, decisive move to stake its claim in the cloud before it falls even farther behind," he wrote.

Fortune magazine reported that Microsoft has the cash to make such an acquisition, and knows that its competitive offering to the Salesforce.com technology is "inferior" to that of its rival.

Furthermore, Microsoft and Salesforce.com have become closer in the past year in terms of partnerships. One reason for Microsoft to make the acquisition is culture, Fortune wrote.

"(Microsoft CEO Satya) Nadella would consider the move a radical opportunity to shake up Microsoft’s culture by relocating the company’s headquarters to San Francisco and leaving behind some of Microsoft’s hidebound ways," it wrote.

Joseph Tsidulko and Steven Burke contributed to this story.

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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