Twitter shares plunge on report bidders are scarce

Thu Oct 6, 2016 4:44pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Twitter Inc (TWTR.N: Quote) shares plunged on Thursday as fears mounted that a much-anticipated auction of the social media company will draw minimal interest from potential buyers.

With stagnant user growth and continuing losses, Twitter's board agreed last month to consider a sale, and has told potential acquirers it wants such deliberations to conclude by the time it reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 27, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Technology website Recode reported later on Wednesday that Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O: Quote), long considered the most logical buyer for Twitter, and Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote) would not bid for the social network, leaving cloud software company Salesforce.com (CRM.N: Quote) as the only known suitor.

Twitter shares fell as much as 19.2 percent to $20.10, valuing the company at about $14.2 billion. They closed 20.1 percent lower at $19.87.

Salesforce Chief Executive Mark Benioff has publicly expressed his interest in Twitter in recent days, but stopped short of saying the company had decided on a bid.

Analysts said he downplayed the possibility in a meeting with investors on Wednesday, sending Salesforce shares up about 4 percent.

"I'm not saying I'm buying it, but I'm not saying I'm not buying it," Benioff said on Wednesday in an interview with the New York Times.

Even at $20, Twitter shares are well above the $14 they were trading at before speculation about a possible acquisition began to emerge this spring.

Many investors and analysts believe Twitter remains expensive for most potential buyers, but the company does not have a clear back-up plan if it is not acquired.   Continued...

 
People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in  Warsaw September 27, 2013.   REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo