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Business Objects Shares Jump on Sale Report

Reuters
Monday, 17 Sep 2007 | 1:30 PM ET

Shares in Business Objects rose sharply on Monday following a weekend newspaper report that the Franco-American software group was for sale and had retained Goldman Sachs as advisers.

But the shares lost some of their earlier gains as some analysts said a deal looked unlikely in light of the current market jitters about debt, and they struggled to identify a credible suitor.

Shares in Business Objects were up more than 6 percent in Nasdaq trade Monday, and rose in Europe as well.

Le Figaro reported on Saturday that German software group SAPwas best positioned to acquire Business Objects and could enter into exclusive talks in the coming weeks.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment, while no one at Business Objects was immediately available for comment.

Analysts noted that many deals in the sector had fallen through this year, including the private equity buy-out of Atos Origin.

Speculation that Business Objects could be a target has been ebbing and flowing in the past few weeks.

Oddo Securities estimated that there was only a 20 percent chance a deal could materialize while Exane BNP Paribas put the odds at barely above 50 percent.

"We believe that there are no obvious buyers," Societe Generale said in a note.

On Monday, SAP declined to comment specifically on interest in Business Objects and reiterated it planned to pursue organic growth.

In contrast, arch-rival Oracle has spent more than $20 billion on acquisitions in recent years.

"SAP is not used to making large acquisitions, and acquiring Business Objects would be a major change in its strategy," Exane BNP Paribas said in a note.

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