Activist investor Elliott Management takes stake in Salesforce – sources

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(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 Inc, 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 leads Salesforce jointly with Bret Taylor, who is expected to leave the company this month.

CNBC reported on Monday that activist investor Jeff Ubben’s Inclusive Capital Partners also took a stake in Salesforce, however, the report did not reveal the size of the holding.

The hedge fund and Salesforce did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, and Elliott declined to comment.

Shares of Salesforce rose about 3% in early trading on Monday.

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Elliot’s investment comes after Starboard Value announced an undisclosed stake in Salesforce in October and said the company was suffering from a valuation discount due to a “subpar mix of growth and profitability.”

Earlier this year, Salesforce, which is valued at $151.3 billion, said it planned to cut jobs by 10% and close some offices after rapid pandemic hiring left it with a bloated workforce.

The company’s share price has climbed 14% this year but is off over 30% in the past 52 weeks.

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.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that Elliott had taken a stake in Salesforce.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York, Sneha Bhowmik and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Tiyashi Datta and Akash Sriram; Editing by Chris Reese, Stephen Coates and Anil D’Silva)

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