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Called to Account: Salesforce.com acquisition of related company mixes complex transactions with a big writeoff

Salesforce.com Inc.’s fraught acquisition of Salesforce.org will force an estimated $200 million profit hit, but the transaction — which also involved another deal for a company Salesforce Ventures invested in — could produce “ghost revenue” the company can use to meet executive bonus targets.

Salesforce CRM, +1.41% the cloud-based customer relationship management, or CRM, software company, announced the deal last week but said little about the charge, which it called a “one-time non-cash accounting charge” estimated at $200 million, with a final amount to be determined and recognized at the closing of the transaction.

The charge is an operating expense for both the company’s standard financial reporting, according to GAAP, and for any non-GAAP results.

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