EXCLUSIVE Salesforce rival Freshworks hires banks for IPO -sources

April 27 (Reuters) - Freshworks Inc, a U.S. maker of business and customer engagement software that competes against Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N), has hired investment banks to prepare for a U.S. initial public offering (IPO), people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The stock market debut could value Freshworks at around $10 billion, two of the sources said. The San Mateo, California-based company has hired Morgan Stanley (MS.N) to lead the IPO, which could come in the next few months, and is looking to float its shares on Nasdaq, according to the sources.

Freshworks plans to confidentially submit paperwork for the offering to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the coming weeks, the sources added.

The sources requested anonymity because the deliberations are confidential and cautioned that the timing, listing venue and valuation are subject to change.

Freshworks and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Freshworks' IPO preparations come amid a rapid expansion of the business software sector, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed people to work remotely and accelerated the global economy's digital transformation.

Shares of UiPath Inc (PATH.N), another software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm, have risen by over 20% since it went public last week.

Freshworks generated over $300 million of annual subscription revenue in 2020, representing 40% growth year-over-year, the company said in February. It was valued at around $3.5 billion during its last funding round in November 2019, counting Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, CapitalG and Tiger Global Management among its largest investors.

Launched in the southern Indian city of Chennai in 2011 and previously known as Freshdesk, Freshworks was founded by Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy, both former executives of Zoho, another enterprise software firm with Indian roots.

Last year, Freshworks hired Tyler Sloat as its chief financial officer. He had helped take another enterprise software maker, Zuora Inc (ZUO.N), public in 2018.

Freshworks currently has over 40,000 customers, including Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O), Klarna and General Electric Co (GE.N).

Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bengaluru and Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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