It’s exceedingly rare for senior executives to speculate publicly about the sale of their company, so when one does it – as Hasso Plattner, chairman and major shareowner of the corporate software giant SAP did yesterday – you have to wonder what kind of signal he’s trying to send. In an interview with the German edition of the Financial Times, Plattner implied that SAP “is open to an acquisition by US technology groups,” according to a report on the interview in the FT today. Here’s what Plattner said:
“There are only three potential buyers: IBM, Microsoft and Google. I don’t see anyone else. If shareholders think that a combination, and not independence, is better, then it will happen … You have to be emotionless.”
Regarding a merger with IBM specifically, Plattner said:
“I do not want to invent rumours because there are no talks. However, I do not want to say that I dislike IBM so much that I could not imagine such a scenario at all.”
SAP’s PR apparatus is in high gear this morning, trying to squelch speculation about a sale. Still, when a guy who owns about 11% of a big company’s stock, as Plattner reportedly does, opens the door to a takeover in an interview with a major newspaper, you have to assume he knows what he’s doing.