If Citrix is for sale, who will buy it?

The list of potential buyers may be short

If Citrix Systems is for sale, there is a short list of companies that would have reason to buy it.

Citrix's products are widely used in corporate environments. Its revenue reached $3.4 billion last year, an 8% increase over the prior year.

Founded in 1989, the company has successfully fought off numerous competitive challenges along the way, and it maintains a strong user base. But investors are now pressuring Citrix, according to Reuters, to consider selling or unloading assets. These investors may lack the long view.

Citrix has thrived in a relatively narrow technology space, despite -- in particular -- Microsoft's money and competing technology. Citrix has arguably stayed ahead in remote desktop technology, while nonetheless maintaining a good working relationship and partnership with Microsoft.

Dell is rumored to be interested in Citrix, but analysts say there are other firms that may have a strong incentive to buy it.

The most significant threat today to Citrix is the development of alternative methods to access information. The rise of mobile computing and cloud is changing this market.

As applications turn toward SaaS, they are also becoming more cross-platform, said David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester, "which means that they don't have Windows dependencies anymore and will work through a browser and a wider range of operating systems natively."

These alternative platforms "erode some of Citrix's value proposition," said Johnson. And while Citrix deals with these platform shifts, it still faces competition from Microsoft and VMware in desktops as well as server virtualization.

But analysts are not worried from a Citrix customer standpoint.

"They've still got a solid business," said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, of Citrix.

The two companies that are probably the best fit for Citrix are Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Both firms have very deep relationships with Microsoft and "are major players in markets where Citrix is a major entity," said King.

He believes that Dell is more likely to show interest than HP, but only because HP is completing its split, separating its PC division from its enterprise products and services. It has a lot going on right now, he said.

Both Dell and HP, for instance, sell thin clients, devices designed to operate in virtual desktop environments. But two other firms that may be interested in Citrix, said Johnson, are Microsoft and VMware.

"I can't think of too many others with the cash to acquire Citrix," said Johnson.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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