Oracle pays up for an ‘Eloquent’ marketing platform

Contact: Brenon Daly

Two months ago, we noted that Oracle was rumored to be looking to acquire a marketing automation vendor. At that point, the buzz was that the acquisitive software giant, which has done social media-flavored marketing deals recently, was eyeing Marketo to be its platform. Instead, Oracle went with Eloqua, paying $956m for the company (on a fully diluted equity basis).

Eloqua, which went public in August but recently shelved a subsequent follow-on offering, had about $85m in cash, giving the proposed transaction an enterprise value of $871m. Using that figure, Oracle is valuing Eloqua at about 9.7x trailing sales – a valuation that’s about 50% higher than it paid in either of its acquisitions of fellow publicly traded SaaS application vendors over the past 14 months. (Both RightNow and Taleo went off at closer to 6.5x trailing sales.)

For Eloqua, the deal wraps a short – but rather profitable – stint on the public market. It only went public four months ago, but it is leaving the Nasdaq at twice the price it joined. Eloqua first sold shares to the public at $11.50, while Oracle is paying $23.50 for each share in the acquisition. The transaction is expected to close before mid-2013.

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