SEATTLE, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Adobe Systems Inc’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) stock skyrocketed on Thursday after a media report stirred speculation it might become an acquisition target for Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT).
The New York Times reported that Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer had met secretly with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen at Adobe’s San Francisco offices "recently."
The two discussed Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) dominance in mobile phones and considered several options to counteract that, including Microsoft acquiring Adobe, the newspaper reported, citing employees and consultants involved in the discussions.
The stock rose as much as 17 percent to an intraday high of $30 before settling back. It closed up 11.5 percent at $28.69 on Nasdaq. Microsoft shares were up 0.4 percent at $24.53.
Adobe and Microsoft declined to comment.
Such a deal could be worth $15 billion or more based on Adobe’s current market value. It would mark a major offensive in Microsoft’s bid for a larger share of Internet media and mobile platforms by getting hold of Adobe’s popular Flash player, used by many websites for video and graphics.
An acquisition could make sense, Wall Street analysts said, as a way for Microsoft to integrate graphics and video capabilities into software for new phones and tablet computers, and to counter Apple, whose CEO Steve Jobs has railed against the quality of the Flash player and discouraged developers from using it in applications for the iPhone and iPad.
"It’s certainly possible," said Morningstar analyst Toan Tran of a potential deal. "It may be a case of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ and both Microsoft and Adobe have a common enemy in Apple. The Flash platform in Microsoft’s hands might be an interesting competitive weapon against Apple."
Adobe’s shares have been volatile lately, falling 19 percent on Sept. 22 after issuing a lower-than-expected sales forecast and gaining 12 percent on Sept. 9 after Apple eased restrictions on iPhone and iPad applications.