Box 'exploring sale' amid investor pressure

The file-sharing service has come under pressure for not capitalising on the pandemic

Box CEO Aaron Levie on stage

Cloud service Box is reportedly exploring a sale amid growing pressure from investors that are thought to be unhappy with its stock performance during the pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company has been in discussions with potential buyers, including private equity firms, according to CNN sources. 

The sources requested anonymity because the issue is confidential, but there have been reports that Box shareholder Starboard Value has already begun preparing a board challenge against the firm. 

Last week, the company extended the deadline for director nominations to its board from the middle of April to 11 May. However, Starboard is calling for Box to do more to boost its value, with many thought to be unhappy that the cloud company hasn't fully capitalised on remote working during the pandemic. 

Box, which was founded in 2005, was thought to be well placed to grow during the pandemic as it offers file-sharing and cloud storage services to businesses. While it has benefited from the shift to working from home over the last 12 months, its growth has been far lower than rival cloud businesses. 

The company's fourth-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations, but with revenues of $189.9 million, it had only seen 8% growth year-over-year.

The company has continued to grow since going public in 2015, but the pace of that growth has declined each year. In comparison, smaller file-sharing service Dropbox has doubled its net income during the pandemic, which may suggest that this market has a ceiling. 

Similarly, Google and Microsoft, which offer file-sharing products within their business packages, have seen accelerated growth due to the global situation. It's thought that if Box is seeking a sale, these hyper-scale companies could offer a lifeline; both have sought partnerships with Box, with Microsoft recently announcing tighter integration with its Office 365 platform.

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