Airbus with billion euro offer for cybersecurity division

Last Updated: 4. Januar 2024By

Airbus moves closer to acquiring the cybersecurity division of French IT group Atos. Now it has been announced that the aircraft giant is offering between 1.5 and 1.8 billion euros for Atos‘ Big Data & Security (BDS) business.

The Atos share price temporarily reacted with a strong jump, but this quickly dissipated during trading. In the afternoon, Atos shares were trading with a significant drop of around 6%.

Atos in crisis Atos SE, formerly Atos Origin S.A., is an internationally operating IT service company. After the acquisition of Siemens IT Solutions and Services GmbH in 2011, the group is one of the world’s largest providers of digital services.

The company’s business activities include consulting and technology services, systems integration and managed services, security solutions, business process solutions, big data and cybersecurity solutions, cloud strategies, IT outsourcing, and transaction services through Worldline.

Cash-strapped Atos needs money: 2 billion euros must be refinanced in the next twelve months alone. The stock performance is a tragedy. While the share was still trading at over 130 euros at the end of 2017, the price is currently hovering around 6.6 euros. The market value has shrunk to under 750 million euros.

Sale would bring in cash Now aircraft manufacturer Airbus has made an offer for the cybersecurity and data division. Atos announced on Wednesday that Airbus values the Big Data and Security (BDS) business at 1.5 to 1.8 billion euros including debt. Atos has also received another non-binding bid, which only relates to parts of the BDS business. Therefore, the company wants to prioritize negotiations with the aircraft manufacturer. However, according to the company, talks are still in an early stage.

Atos has been looking for a solution for some time now, as losses in its core IT service business and high debts are causing headwinds. Initially, a split into the Big Data and Cybersecurity divisions was planned for mid-2022. The traditional Atos IT service business is now up for sale under the name Tech Foundations. For the Eviden division, which includes the BDS business, Atos has recently considered a capital increase and smaller share sales.

Security is becoming increasingly important at Airbus Atos and Airbus had already discussed an Airbus stake of 29.9% in the Evidian division (now renamed Eviden), which includes BDS, in spring 2023. At the time, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury stated that the entry was sensible because aviation is increasingly dependent on large amounts of data and high-performance computers. Airbus withdrew its offer but continued negotiations behind the scenes.

Split is by no means a foregone conclusion Atos‘ cybersecurity business is considered to be of national security relevance in France. Among other things, the group’s supercomputers are used for simulation calculations of nuclear bomb tests, which France no longer carries out with real nuclear weapons. Therefore, the Atos split is not a foregone conclusion from a political point of view. Some politicians have even raised the possibility of nationalizing the company.

It remains to be seen what will happen next. Airbus investors are currently still cautious. In a weak market environment, the Airbus share also traded significantly lower yesterday.