Software Deals Could See Boost With Trump Tax Break on Overseas Cash

Enterprise software has been a hotbed for mergers and acquisitions this year, with Oracle  (ORCL) , Salesforce.com (CRM) and Microsoft (MSFT) and others chasing companies that develop cloud, analytics, artificial intelligence and related software.

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While the policies of the incoming Trump administration present a number of wild cards to tech and other sectors, the President-elect's proposal to allow a reduced tax bill for repatriated cash could provide Silicon Valley with funds for a continued acquisition spree.

The enterprise software companies that Evercore covers have $183 billion in offshore cash, analyst Kirk Materne wrote in a post-election report, not counting quasi-outsiders such as Cisco Systems  (CSCO) or Alphabet (GOOGL) that could take interest in companies in the sector. While there are other uses of cash than acquisitions, Materne suggested that the biggest names should buy growth.

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"We believe that this massive inflow of capital could potentially result in an enhanced M&A environment, particularly for bigger and more strategic deals." Materne wrote. "While larger vendors like Microsoft and Oracle could use the capital inflow to boost dividends or repurchase shares, in our view, a much better way for large companies to use the cash would be to take a more aggressive approach to M&A in order to build a bigger foothold in 'growthier' segments of the software market: potential targets would likely include companies focused on vertical cloud applications, AI/machine learning technologies, analytics, big data technologies, and digital marketing."

Among the enterprise software companies, Microsoft has the largest stash, Evercore estimates, with $111.1 billion in overseas cash. Having more than 80% of its cash overseas has not prevented the company from funding deals with debt, as Microsoft did with the $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn (LNKD) . The company declined to talk about potential uses of overseas cash.

Oracle, which also declined to comment, is next with $51.4 billion outside of the U.S. Larry Ellison's tech group is targeting $10 billion in cloud revenue and this year has acquired cloud business software company NetSuite for $9.3 billion, utilities software developer Opower for $550 million, construction management software group Textura for $660 million and enterprise cloud company Ravello Systems for $500 million.

Marc Benioff's Salesforce.com does not disclose cash offshore. Evercore puts its total cash at $3.2 billion, though the company has a larger pile of debt than cash. The customer relationship management software developer is also racing to $10 billion in sales.

This year, Salesforce.com has announced the $700 million purchase of data management platform Krux Digital, the $580 million acquisition of communication and collaboration software company Quip. and the completed $2.85 billion purchase of e-commerce group Demandware Inc., among others.

Cisco and Alphabet have $59.8 billion and $49.7 billion in overseas cash, respectively. Both could take interest in software.

Networking giant Cisco has acquired software developers, but declined to say how it might use repatriated cash. This year it paid $1.4 billion for Internet of Things group Jasper Technologies, nearly $300 million for security outfit CloudLock and $260 million for cloud application management platform ClicQr Technologies. Also, it invested $150 million in messaging and collaboration platform Slack Technologies.

Google paid $625 million to acquire Apigee  (APIC) , which develops tools for working with application programming interfaces. The company did not respond to a query.

Adobe (ADBE) , which is buying ad tech grouip TubeMogul (TUBE) for about $540 million, has nearly $3.6 billion in offshore cash, according to Evercore.

Others on Evercore's list include Autodesk (ADSK) , with $2.2 billion overseas; CA (CA) , with $2.1 billion outside the U.S.; Symantec (SYMC) , with $3.4 billion in offshore funds; and VMWare (VMW) , with nearly $6.3 billion overseas.

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