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.
"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.