Activist investor Elliott Management takes stake in Salesforce -sources

(Reuters) -Activist investor Elliott Management Corp has made a multi-billion dollar investment in cloud-based software firm Salesforce Inc, according to people familiar with the matter.

It is unclear what Elliott, one of the world’s most prominent activist investors, is pushing for at Salesforce.

“We look forward to working constructively with Salesforce to realize the value befitting a company of its stature,” Jesse Cohn, managing partner at Elliott told Reuters.

Cohn, who has served on the boards of several technology companies including Twitter and eBay, called Salesforce “one of the preeminent software companies in the world.”

He added that he has “developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built.” Benioff co-founded the company and is its co-CEO.

Benioff’s co-CEO, Bret Taylor, is expected to leave this month, leaving Benioff as the sole CEO.

Salesforce did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment and Elliott declined to comment.

Elliott has made many technology focused investments. It recently won a board seat at Pinterest Inc when the company added Elliott portfolio manager Marc Steinberg as a director.

Salesforce is valued at $151.3 billion.

Earlier this year Salesforce Inc said it plans to cut jobs by 10% and close some offices after rapid pandemic hiring left it with a bloated workforce amid an economic slowdown.

This marks the second time in three months that an activist firm has taken a stake in Salesforce after Starboard Value in October announced an undisclosed stake and said the company was suffering from a valuation discount due to a “subpar mix of growth and profitability.”

Starboard CEO Jeff Smith said at the time that his firm had been engaging with management and that new executives, including Taylor who was promoted to the Salesforce role in November 2021, were better focused on balancing growth aspirations and profit delivery.

The company’s share price has climbed 12% this year but is off 32% in the past 52 weeks.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Elliott’s stake.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York, Sneha Bhowmik and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates)

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