Salesforce drops almost 6%, Twitter pops 5% as takeover bids said to be imminent

Takeout time for Twitter?
Takeout time for Twitter?

Shares of's stock dipped nearly 6 percent on Wednesday after reports that tied it more closely to the potential sale of Twitter.

Twitter's board is trying to figure out whether they can sell the company before making any cuts, as CEO Jack Dorsey is pushing his board for more time to execute his video strategy, sources told CNBC.

Right now, the Twitter board is focused on third-quarter revenue and user numbers ahead of an earnings report a few weeks away, sources told CNBC. Also on the radar is a live-streaming deal with the NFL, which has been successful, but has not likely bolstered the core user number, the sources said.

It comes after 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 told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Wednesday that when considering acquisitions, he looks at a lot of things, but passes on most.

"It's in our interest to look at everything," Benioff said. "We have to go deep on everything. We have to understand what is possible for our shareholders and what isn't."

Google also declined to comment.

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 Dorsey 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 more than 5 percent on Wednesday. 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 almost 45 percent over the past three months, amid multiple reports that it might move closer to a sale. CNBC has reached out to the other companies involved for comment.

— Reporting by CNBC's Julia Boorstin.


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 12 months. Mizuho Securities or its affiliates has managed or co-managed a public offering of securities for Disney in the past 12 months.