Mar 1, 2023 - Economy

Elliott director slate adds pressure ahead of Salesforce earnings

Photo illustration of Paul Singer and Marc Benioff.

Elliott co-founder Paul Singer and Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff. Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg, Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Image

Elliott Management notified Salesforce within the last few weeks that it is officially running a slate of directors to replace existing board members, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Elliott's director nominations put added pressure on Salesforce to show that it's committed to a turnaround and pushing forward major changes to improve its performance, or risk a board shakeup.

Details: The size and makeup of Elliott's slate remains unclear. CNBC said that the size likely was two to three director nominees, and that Elliott managing partner Jesse Cohn was one of the candidates.

Zoom in: If Elliott proceeds with a proxy fight and wins board seats, that would be the biggest threat to Salesforce CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff's leadership to date.

Yes, but: Pressure on Benioff and the company could be dramatically reduced if it produces strong earnings today (after the close) and lays out specific, strategic goals that placate Elliott.

Of note: Elliott and Salesforce could reach a legal settlement or some kind of agreement that avoids a proxy fight and still keeps the activist investor engaged with the company in its campaign for changes.

What we're watching: Salesforce's earnings numbers, additional cost cuts and strategic moves, and whether Elliott delivers a statement of support, as it did when it pressured AT&T, or if it remains frustrated, and ramps up a full-on proxy fight.

Elliott and Salesforce did not immediately return requests for comment.

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