By Adria Calatayud


Airbus is in talks to buy Atos's cybersecurity unit, with an indicative offer that values the business at up to 1.8 billion euros ($1.97 billion) including debt.

Facing fresh financial constraints, French IT group Atos is revisiting its asset-sale plans nearly a year after the European plane maker's failed bid to take a minority stake in the Atos division that houses the cybersecurity unit.

Atos said Wednesday that it is in preliminary discussions with Airbus over a potential sale of its big-data and security business, or BDS, and that it will now open a due diligence phase. Airbus's indicative offer is for an enterprise value of between EUR1.5 billion and EUR1.8 billion, Atos said.

At 0826 GMT, Atos shares rose 2.6% to EUR7.17, having jumped as much as 12% in earlier trade, but have lost about a third of their value over the last year. Airbus shares traded 0.4% lower at EUR140.78, but were still up 24% compared with a year ago.

Airbus confirmed it submitted a nonbinding proposal in relation to a potential acquisition of Atos's BDS. Discussions remain subject to due diligence and there can be no certainty that they will result in a transaction, the company said.

The France-headquartered plane maker, which is also a large defense contractor, said the acquisition of BDS could enhance its defense and security portfolio with strong capabilities in cybersecurity, advanced computing and artificial intelligence.

Airbus said a potential deal for BDS would align with its ambitions in the aerospace, defence and cybersecurity segment, a long-running aspiration for the company. Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said during an earnings call in November that recent geopolitical conflicts have reinforced the need for innovative defense, space and cyber capabilities.

In February last year, Airbus made an offer to buy a 29.9% stake in Evidian--as Atos's Eviden business was previously called--but pulled out in March, saying it would continue to discuss other potential options with Atos.

Since then, financial pressures on Atos have grown and the company said it has adjusted its strategy as a result to ensure the repayment and refinancing of its debts. As part of this process, Atos is widening its asset-sale program beyond the EUR400 million in divestments it indicated in late July, with BDS as a key lever.

Atos said it received two letters indicating nonbinding interest in BDS, one of which relates only to part of the unit's operations.

The company is considering additional asset sales after changing market conditions forced it to reduce the size of a planned capital increase for Eviden, the division that includes BDS. In October, Atos said it planned a capital increase of EUR900 million for Eviden to strengthen the division's finances.

Atos said it is continuing talks to sell its Tech Foundations division to EP Equity Investment, an investment company steered by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, but that there is no certainty an agreement will be reached.

The company said it doesn't rule out the sale of additional assets, particularly if the transaction with EPEI doesn't go ahead.

In parallel to negotiations for asset sales, Atos said it will enter into talks with its banks, seeking to maintain funding and provide refinancings to avoid uncertainties about the company's long-term outlook.


Write to Adria Calatayud at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 03, 2024 04:00 ET (09:00 GMT)

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