SAP Said to Conduct Informal Talks With MobileIron

(Corrects spelling of Norwest Venture Partners in the fifth paragraph).

SAP AG (SAP), Europe’s biggest software maker, approached MobileIron Inc. about a possible acquisition to expand in programs for smartphones and tablet computers, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Walldorf, Germany-based SAP met with closely held MobileIron about buying the company sometime from late February to early March, said the people, who declined to be named because the discussions were private. A senior SAP executive led informal talks, which are no longer active, one person said. Clarissa Horowitz, a spokeswoman for Mountain View, California-based MobileIron, said “we have never spoken to SAP.”

MobileIron is now focused on raising a round of financing before a possible initial public offering next year, three people with knowledge of the plans said.

MobileIron’s software helps corporations manage and protect data that employees access on personal smartphones and tablets, a market that’s growing as businesses curb reliance on Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry and devices built on Microsoft Corp.’s mobile software. With MobileIron, SAP could expand in software for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, as well as devices running Google Inc.’s Android software.

The company has raised $57 million from investors including Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Foundation Capital and Storm Ventures.

SAP is also considering other U.S. targets in cloud computing and mobile applications, two of the people said. Scott Behles, a spokesman for SAP, said he couldn’t comment on speculation as a matter of policy.

100,000 Customers

SAP supplies business software for managing finances and operations to more than 100,000 customers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. SAP has made deals to add applications for mobile devices and cloud-computing as its clients lessen reliance on traditional data centers.

In December, SAP bought SuccessFactors Inc., a maker of online human resources software, for $3.4 billion. Two years ago, SAP bought Sybase for a reported $5.8 billion, adding software that helps run business applications on iPads and other devices. Last month, SAP said it would buy Syclo LLC for an undisclosed sum, gaining inventory-management software for mobile devices.

MobileIron’s applications let corporate customers load software onto smartphones and tablets, control data security policies and track usage when workers are abroad.

To contact the reporters on this story: Serena Saitto in New York at ssaitto@bloomberg.net. Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco at aricadela@bloomberg.net Peter Burrows in San Francisco at pburrows@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net. Thomas Giles at Tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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