Microsoft Corp. is evaluating a bid for Salesforce.com Inc., after the cloud software provider was approached by another would-be buyer, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Salesforce, which has a market value of almost $50 billion, is working with two investment banks to determine a response to approaches, two of the people said. The San Francisco-based company’s options could include rebuffing any buyer, or working out a sale, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg last week.

Microsoft isn’t in talks with Salesforce, and no deal is imminent, the people said. Still, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has long expected it might compete for Salesforce if it was for sale, one of the people said. Another company was in talks with Salesforce as recently as April, spurring Microsoft’s actions, two people said.

For any buyer, Salesforce offers a leading position in customer relationship management, or CRM, software, as well as cloud computing -- the delivery of business software and services via the Internet. Salesforce climbed 1.6 percent to $72.75 at the close in New York.

Microsoft and Salesforce reached an agreement last year to make the companies’ software work better together. Microsoft, which sells its own customer-management software, lags behindSalesforce. Microsoft last week set a goal of increasing annual revenue from its commercial cloud business to about $20 billion.

Tony Imperati, a spokesman for Microsoft, and Chi Hea Cho, a spokeswoman for Salesforce, declined to comment.

Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz said last week an acquisition of Salesforce would create disruption in the software market. She declined to comment on whether Oracle was interested in buying Salesforce.

Salesforce was involved in strategic-alliance discussions with SAP SE last year, people with knowledge of the matter said last week. SAP said it’s not considering a bid for Salesforce.

 

--With assistance from Beth Jinks and Jack Clark in San Francisco.

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