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Splunk Gains on Speculation IBM May Consider Takeover

Splunk Inc., a maker of software that helps businesses analyze Web data, climbed the most in more than four months on speculation that the company might be acquired by International Business Machines Corp.

The shares increased 8.4 percent to $32.27 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Aug. 31. Shares of the San Francisco-based company have advanced 90 percent since an initial public offering in April.

Splunk could lure offers of as much as $4 billion, James Gilman, an analyst at Drexel Hamilton LLC, said in an interview. IBM, the largest computer services provider, or Oracle Corp., the biggest provider of database software, might consider buying Splunk to expand services for corporate customers, he said.

“I have heard IBM,” Peter Goldmacher, an analyst at Cowen & Co., said in an interview about potential buyers.

James Sciales, a spokesman for IBM, said the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. Deborah Hellinger, an Oracle spokeswoman, declined to comment. Tom Stilwell, a Splunk spokesman, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Founded in 2004 by Erik Swan, Rob Das and Michael Baum, Splunk is the first of the so-called big data companies to go public, providing software that helps businesses monitor and analyze information to improve service, cut operations costs and reduce security risks. Its backers include venture firms August Capital, JK&B Capital, Ignition and Sevin Rosen Funds.

IBM has been expanding its efforts to analyze business data to improve performance and security. The company plans to make $16 billion from analytics by 2015.

Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison is spending to add cloud software that customers can rent and run over the Internet, a tool Spunk provides. In December, Oracle agreed to buy Eloqua Inc. for about $871 million, further expanding in cloud computing and ratcheting up competition with Inc. and SAP AG.

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