Exclusive-France’s Thales considers move for Atos cybersecurity arm BDS – sources


LONDON (Reuters) – France’s Thales is engaged on a plan to purchase the cybersecurity enterprise of IT consultancy group Atos, which might be value about $3 billion, regardless of expectations of French authorities opposition to any break-up, sources informed Reuters.

Thales and its adviser Centerview Partners have approached a number of non-public fairness corporations together with Bain Capital to discover a potential joint provide for Atos as a part of a deal that might might see it damaged up, the sources mentioned.

French defence group Thales would purchase the large information and cybersecurity enterprise, referred to as BDS, they informed Reuters on situation of anonymity.

Shares in Atos slumped to their lowest degree since mid-2012 after it issued two revenue warnings in seven months, changing into a lovely targets for non-public fairness traders.

Yet any sale would face main headwinds in France the place the federal government of Emmanuel Macron is cautious of seeing delicate ‘nationwide champions’ equivalent to Atos bought to overseas traders with presidential elections looming in April.

“The French authorities will strongly oppose any break-up of Atos proper now,” one of many sources mentioned.

Thales’ advisers have additionally begun talks with CVC Capital Partners and PAI Partners over a potential joint bid for Atos however the timing of such a move stays unclear, one other mentioned.

Thales, Atos, Centerview, Bain and PAI declined to remark whereas CVC was not instantly obtainable.

The French finance ministry didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Atos, with a market worth of three.5 billion euros ($3.95 billion), gave former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe a seat on its board of administrators in 2020 and had European Commissioner Thierry Breton as its CEO for greater than a decade, making it a politically-delicate goal, the sources mentioned.

Atos, suggested by Rothschild, has rebuffed earlier overtures by Thales for BDS and would view any move by non-public fairness funds to launch a public provide and delist Atos from the Paris trade as hostile and undesirable, one of many sources mentioned.

BDS is valued at between 2 and three billion euros ($3.4 billion) and accounts for about half of Atos’ general income, the supply added.

Thales and Atos have just lately partnered on a three way partnership referred to as Athea to develop a sovereign massive information and synthetic intelligence platform for the private and non-private sector with a give attention to defence, intelligence and inside state safety.

For Thales, bulking up cybersecurity operations has been on the playing cards because it purchased Dutch information safety agency Gemalto for 4.8 billion euros in 2019, pledging to create a world powerhouse in digital safety.

Bain, which in January purchased French IT companies agency Inetum in a deal value about $2.27 billion, would use any joint buyout of Atos to increase its portfolio of tech property in Europe, the place it additionally controls Italy’s IT agency Engineering Group.

($1 = 0.8835 euros)

(Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain, Tim Hepher, Julien Ponthus and Michel Rose; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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