Tibco confirms it is exploring 'strategic and financial alternatives'

Potential acquirers of the software vendor include SAP, Hewlett-Packard and even Infosys, according to one analyst

Tibco's board of directors has begun a review of "strategic and financial alternatives," which presumably include a sale, the middleware vendor has confirmed following a news report of its plans.

The board has appointed a committee of independent directors to conduct the review, which began Aug. 16, Tibco said late Wednesday.

The disclosure came about a month after the Wall Street Journal reported Tibco was in early talks about a sale and approaching potential buyers, which included private-equity firms.

"Following a detailed evaluation over the past several months, we have determined that it is prudent to undertake a wide review of strategic and financial options to see which alternative or alternatives, including our standalone plans, are in fact the best way to maximize shareholder value," CEO Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement.

Although Tibco's revenue has grown this year, its stock price has fallen as the company missed analyst estimates and profits dipped.

Tibco sells a wide range of middleware and has been building out its analytics business, which includes the Spotfire data-discovery tool that competes with the likes of Tableau. Earlier this year, Tibco acquired commercial open source BI (business intelligence) vendor Jaspersoft.

Rumors of a Tibco sale have swirled on-and-off for years, with SAP often pegged as a potential buyer.

That outcome "still makes sense," said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst with Constellation Research. SAP's NetWeaver middleware didn't achieve the success the company had hoped for and the addition of Tibco's product set would give it "credibility in the middleware space," Mueller said.

SAP is centering development efforts around the Hana in-memory computing platform, which remains "very database-centric," Mueller said.

In addition, Spotfire is Tibco's "crown jewel" and would complement SAP's Business Objects analytics family, he added.

Hewlett-Packard could be another buyer for Tibco, as it has a "similar problem" to SAP's with a lack of middleware, Mueller said. With Tibco, HP can make a better case to customers that they should build their applications on its cloud, he said.

Systems integrators with ambitions of building products -- such as Infosys, which is now led by former SAP technology chief Vishal Sikka -- are also potential buyers, according to Mueller.

Less likely buyers for Tibco would be Oracle and IBM, which have ample supplies of middleware already. If either did make such a move, it might be more to remove a competitor from the table.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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