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Business Objects Spurs Speculation

The business intelligence software maker cancels two appearances for next week. Is a secondary coming?

Business Objects

(BOBJ)

stock traded as low as $29.90 Thursday after the company pulled out of two investor conferences scheduled for next week, stirring speculation of a secondary offering.

Shares of Business Objects were recently down $1.49, or 4.7%, at $30.36.

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Business Objects bowed out of conferences next week hosted by Wedbush Morgan Securities and Fulcrum Global Partners. "This trip was canceled due to scheduling issues," Business Objects spokeswoman Sherry Lowe said. The company does not comment on rumors, she added.

But analysts said another possible explanation for the business intelligence software maker bowing out of the meetings is it may be planning a secondary offering. If Business Objects files with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

for a secondary offering early next week, for instance, it would not be allowed to talk to investors at the conferences Wednesday and Thursday because the company would be in a so-called quiet period.

Analysts believe a secondary offering makes sense because it would give former owners of Crystal Solutions, acquired by Business Objects in December, a way to sell their Business Objects stock.

Silicon Valley-based private equity investment firm Silver Lake Partners, which was indirectly the largest shareholder of Crystal Solutions, is likely to want to liquidate its Business Objects holdings after a lockup period ends March 12, analysts said. A secondary offering would be the most orderly way to let Silver Lake do that.

A representative from Silver Lake was not immediately available for comment.

Any such offering would not dilute other investors' stock because Business Objects would not be issuing new shares. But even mere speculation that a big chunk of shares could soon be on the selling block was putting downward pressure on the stock Thursday.