Salesforce drops 7%, Twitter pops 4.5% as takeover bids said to be imminent

Jack Dorsey

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Jack Dorsey

Shares of Salesforce.com‘s stock dipped more than 7 percent on Wednesday after reports that tied it more closely to the potential sale of Twitter.

Unnamed sources told the Wall Street Journal that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been building a case to buy Twitter, calling the company an “unpolished jewel,” according to a report published late Tuesday.

Salesforce declined to comment to CNBC, but Benioff will speak with CNBC’s “Power Lunch” on Wednesday.

A bid for Twitter could destroy $12 billion to $17 billion in value for Salesforce, Mizuho analyst Abhey Lamba wrote in a research note. That value could take two to three years to recapture, he said.

“We remain concerned about management’s quest for acquiring Twitter,” Lamba wrote. “Management did not directly address the issue but there is too much information in media to ignore the potential.”

The Journal report indicated that it could receive takeover bids as soon as this week. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Twitter’s board and CEO were in conflict on whether to explore a sale of the company, amid inquiries from Disney, Salesforce and Google.

That report indicates bids could come within a “couple of weeks — or not at all.”

Twitter shares, meanwhile, rose more than 4.5 percent on Wednesday morning. Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter, told CNBC that Twitter could be “complementary” to many companies, including Google, Salesforce, Microsoft and Facebook.

Still, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Robert Peck indicates that such a merger would be material to Salesforce, while it would be significantly less dilutive to larger companies like Alphabet or Disney.

Salesforce has already been on a “spending spree,” buying a series of artificial intelligence companies, writes BTIG analyst Joel Fishbein. While Twitter has access to valuable data, Peck raises questions about the unverified nature of many user profiles on the site, which often features “not safe for work” content from “bots.”

Shares of Twitter have risen more than 43 percent over the past three months, amid multiple reports that it might move closer to a sale. CNBC has reached out to the companies involved for comment.

Disclosures:

An affiliate of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey has received compensation for non-securities services to Twitter and Salesforce in the last 12 months. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. makes a market in Facebook. BTIG expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from Salesforce in the next 3 months.Mizuho Securities or its affiliates makes a market in Salesforce, Disney, Alphabet and Twitter. Mizuho Securities or its affiliates has received compensation for investment banking services for Disney in the past 12months. Mizuho Securities or its affiliates has managed or co-managed a public offering of securities for Disney in the past 12 months.

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