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Thales boosts cybersecurity credentials with $3.6bn Imperva acquisition

The French defence contractor sees a future in cyber – as well as kinetic – warfare, and is building its business accordingly.

By Matthew Gooding

Thales is beefing up its cybersecurity offering with the acquisition of US vendor Imperva for $3.6bn. The news, which comes hot on the heels of the company’s planned $1.1bn purchase of Cobham Aerospace Communications, reflects a growing focus on cyber – rather than kinetic – warfare from the French defence contractor.

Thales is spending $3.6bn on US cybersecurity vendor Imperva. (Photo by sylv1rob1/Shutterstock)

Shares in Thales fell when the announcement was made on Tuesday morning. Imperva is currently owned by tech private equity firm Thoma Bravo, and the deal is expected to close next year, a Thales statement said.

What is Thales getting by purchasing Imperva?

Founded in 2002, US-headquartered Imperva operates in 180 countries around the world. Providing application and data security products, it claims to count 35% of the Fortune 100 list of largest US companies among its client base. Customers listed on its website include the Discovery TV channel, data centre provider NTT and UK online gambling site Betfred.

It has been owned by Thoma Bravo since 2019, when it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. As such, it does not release detailed financial reports, but Thales says the company is on track for “double-digit sales growth” by 2027, and that the acquisition will add $500m to its annual revenue.

Pam Murphy, Imperva CEO, said: “Today’s announcement represents an exciting new chapter for Imperva, one that will further our mission to help organizations protect data and all paths to it, bring better protection and strategic value to our customers and partners, and create more opportunities for our team members.

“We admire Thales’ vision and culture, and believe that, together, we can deliver greater product innovation and efficiency through disruptive solutions, while helping to simplify the greatest security challenges facing organisations today: protecting digital identities, applications, APIs, and data in any environment, and any industry.”

Thales has big plans for cybersecurity

Thales has been looking to grow its footprint in cybersecurity for some time, and last year was reportedly working on a plan to buy French IT consultancy Atos’s cybersecurity business, with a price tag of $3bn being mooted. This deal never came to fruition.

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By acquiring Imperva, Thales says it will create a “world-class global cybersecurity portfolio” centred on three areas – digital identity, data security and application security.

Patrice Caine, chairman and CEO of Thales, said the acquisition of Imperva “marks a major milestone in Thales’ cybersecurity strategy”.

Caine said: “With this acquisition, we are seizing a unique opportunity to accelerate our cybersecurity capabilities and are taking an important step towards our ambition to build a world-class global cybersecurity integrated player, providing a comprehensive portfolio of products and services.”

Adding that his company has “tremendous respect for Imperva’s innovative application and data security offerings”, Caine continued: “We look forward to welcoming Imperva to Thales to further enhance our cybersecurity solutions, and help customers address their most important digital security challenges.”

Thales, which reported revenue of €17.6bn ($19.4bn) for 2022, up 8.6% year-on-year, is also set to acquire Cobham Communications Systems, which provides in-cockpit communications equipment for aircraft, for $1.1bn. Caine told a call with analysts that further “bolt on” acquisitions could follow to complement its existing activities, but that the priority would be to integrate Imperva and Cobham.

Read more: Cloud sovereignty – why tech firms in Europe are partnering with cloud hyperscalers

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