Joseph F. Kovar
January 03, 2023, 04:03 PM EST
Airbus and rival European defense and cybersecurity giant Thales have both in the past expressed interest in purchasing Atos’ cybersecurity business, which is slated to be spun out in a new company called Evidian, but this is the first inkling of an interest in investing in Evidian itself.
Airbus may be looking at taking a minority stake in Evidian, the identity and access management software subsidiary that is in the process of being spun out of global systems integrator and solution provider Atos.
France-based business publication Les Echos on January 1 reported that Airbus is considering a minority stake in Evidian, the latest in a potential fight between it and rival defense and cybersecurity giant Thales, both of whom are eying a stake in Evidian.
Atos, a global systems integrator with a focus on cloud and digital transformation and a large managed security services practice, in June unveiled a plan to potentially divide into two separate companies, a move that would likely occur during the second half of 2023.
[Related: Atos May Split Into Two Companies: 5 Things To Know]
The decision to explore the creation of two companies—Atos, with a focus on managed infrastructure services, digital workplace and professional services, and Evidian, with a focus on digital transformation, big data and cybersecurity—comes as Paris-based Atos looks to unlock what it calls the highest value for its stakeholders.
Atos is ranked No. 28 in CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500.
Investors saw good news in the potential investment move by Airbus in Evidian. Atos’ share price on the Euronext Paris stock market have been falling steadily since their last peak of nearly 77 Euros in November of 2020 to about 9 Euros in December, but have jumped to nearly 11 Euros per share in the two days since the Les Echos report.
A move by Airbus to invest in Evidian would be the latest in what is shaping up to be a potential fight between two rival European defense and cybersecurity giants.
Paris-based Thales and its adviser Centerview Partners last February reportedly approached several investment firms including Bain Capital to discuss a deal that would have the private equity firms picking up the parts of Atos that Thales isn’t interested in owning.
Thales at the time said it had no discussions underway regarding acquiring Atos, but that it is interested in acquiring new cybersecurity assets while passing on investing in markets it does not already serve.
Leiden, Netherlands-based Airbus in March also expressed interest in Atos’ security business, but not Atos’ entire business. Atos at the time told CRN that its big data and cybersecurity (BDS) division wasn’t for sale.
At least one large solution provider has also expressed interest in Evidian.
Atos in September received an unsolicited letter of intent from Paris-based digital transformation services provider Group Onepoint in association with the British private equity fund ICG related to a potential acquisition of Evidian for an enterprise value of 4.2 billion Euros, or about $4.0 billion. Atos in a statement said, “The Board of Directors has convened and unanimously concluded that it is not in the interest of the Company and its stakeholders.”
Airbus, in response to a CRN request for more information, said via email, “We have no comment on market rumors or speculation. As a global company we are in constant discussion with our partners, customers and suppliers across the industry, but these conversations remain private in nature.”
Atos, in response to a CRN request for more information, confirmed via an emailed statement that after rumors in the French press that it has “engaged exploratory discussions with potential future minority shareholders” related to Evidian, but said those discussions are not advanced enough to allow for any further comment.
“Atos recalls that the strategic plan communicated to the market on June 14, 2022, foresees that Atos retains up to 30 percent of the capital of the Evidian scope, and that the sale of this interest ensures the financing of its own transformation plan. … Today, Atos and its teams are fully mobilized on the advancement of the separation plan according to the planned schedule, which is the Group’s priority,” the company said in the statement.