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February 16, 2023

Atos in talks to sell 30% of its Evidian cybersecurity business unit to Airbus

Talks are ongoing between the companies over Evidian, which was formed when Atos split its business last year.

By Matthew Gooding

Airbus has made an offer to acquire a stake in Evidian, the cybersecurity company launched by Atos when it announced plans to split its business last year. The French IT services giant says talks are ongoing between the companies.

Airbus could take a 30% stake in Atos’s cybersecurity business. (Photo by Manuel Esteban/Shutterstock)

The Atos board said in a statement this morning it plans to “further engage with Airbus, conduct a due-diligence process and negotiate on mutually satisfactory terms on both a long-term strategic and technological partnership and the disposal of the 29.9% stake in Evidian”.

It said there is no exclusivity agreement in place with the aerospace company, which has been linked with a purchase of Atos’s security division since last year.

Airbus investment in Evidian could boost Atos after split

One of France’s biggest technology companies, Atos holds a number of major government contracts domestically and across Europe, including in the UK, and is seen as a national strategic asset by the government in Paris.

But like many ITSPs, it has struggled with the transition to the cloud, and revenue from its traditional IT infrastructure services declining as businesses shift more workloads to virtual machines away from on-premise solutions. Atos has been unable to grow cloud revenue sufficiently to cover this decline and has seen its overall income stagnate in recent years. The company’s total revenue for 2021 was $12.8bn, up from $12.7bn in 2020. It releases its 2022 full-year results at the end of February.

A new CEO, Rodolphe Belmer, was brought in last year to deliver a fresh strategy for the business, but he reportedly clashed with the Atos board, and in June it was announced that Belmer would be leaving the business, with Atos being split into two separate companies – Tech Foundations, the company’s legacy IT infrastructure services, and Evidian, which is responsible for big data, cybersecurity and digital products. This separation happened in September.

How Airbus will help Evidian grow after Atos split

With Airbus as a “potential anchor shareholder and with a long-term strategic and technological agreement, Evidian would strengthen its European leadership and global reach in cloud, advanced computing, digital security and digitalisation”, according to the Atos statement.

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The proposed agreement would “enable both companies to leverage each of their world-class talents, expertise and customer base to generate cross-selling opportunities and enter into new attractive markets by providing unique sovereign digital solutions from secure cloud to data management and security”, it added.

Bertrand Meunier, Atos chairman, said the interest of Airbus is an “acknowledgement of Evidian’s unique capabilities in an increasingly complex digital environment with heightened security challenges”. Meunier added: “Through this proposed large-scale partnership, we would accelerate Evidian’s industrial project and future growth while ensuring technological sovereignty in France and in Europe in the critical fields of cloud, advanced computing, cybersecurity and digitalisation. Atos, including Evidian’s teams, and Airbus have a long history of collaboration and share common values, and, going forward, they would continue to foster innovation and excellence.”

Airbus already has an established cybersecurity business of its own. The company announced its 2022 results today, showing revenue of €58.7bn, up 13% year-on-year. Income from its defence and space business, which includes cybersecurity, was up 25% to $11.4bn.

Tech Monitor has approached Airbus for comment on the Evidian talks.

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