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Atos Mulls Cybersecurity Branch Sale Amid Financial Struggles | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


Atos is considering selling its cybersecurity arm to planemaker Airbus amid financial difficulties.

Airbus has submitted a non-binding offer of €1.5-1.8 billion for Atos’s lauded cybersecurity branch, BDS (Big Data and Security). Atos revealed this week that it was considering the sales of some of its more lucrative operations, and the potential deal would mark the first significant decision by Atos’s new Chair, Jean-Pierre Mustier, following his arrival in October.

The French IT services business is attempting to shore up its finances after several controversies and governance problems (including three CEOs in under two years) in recent years, with asset sales a cornerstone of Mustier’s strategy for steadying the ship.

As well as selling its UC and collaboration business Unify to Mitel last year, Atos attempted to split into two separate companies in 2023. These were Tech Foundations, Atos’s loss-making infrastructure services business, and Eviden, its more modern tech divisions, which include cybersecurity, supercomputing, carbon accounting and cloud computing.

In August, as the split increasingly became a protracted and costly process, Atos said it would sell Tech Foundations and the Atos brand to private investment firm EP Equity Investment. Atos anticipated EP would pay roughly €100 million for Tech Foundations and onboard around €1.9 billion of Atos’ corporate debt. EP has yet to settle on Tech Foundations’ price and the Atos debt they’d take on while seeking to avoid a condition in the original agreement mandating the acquisition of a €218 million stake in Eviden.

Earlier this week, Atos stated that negotiations to sell the unprofitable Tech Foundations division were progressing slower than anticipated. The company indicated that it might explore “legal protection mechanisms” to guide discussions with creditors if talks with banks do not move forward. Its debts include a €1.5 billion loan, which Atos has made the first of two granted six-month rollovers, and billions in other debts whose repayments are due over the next two years.

In a conference call with analysts and journalists this week, Atos Group CFO Paul Saleh was honest about the deal’s circumstances: “It’s taking longer than we originally anticipated. There’s no certainty that an agreement can be reached.”

This uncertainty around the sale to EP, or its investment in Eviden, has catalysed Atos to look for other ways to raise revenue, culminating in its openness to selling its BDS division — and potentially further Eviden businesses.

Atos said it would open due diligence talks with Airbus, which had previously expressed interest in financing a stake in Eviden before it pulled out following pressure from its own shareholders.

Atos’s Unify Sale to Mitel

In October, Mitel closed on its transaction to acquire Atos’s UC and collaboration business Unify to strengthen its UC and collaboration offerings, illustrating the combined company’s status as a global leader in UC and collaboration. Mitel said it now commanded the number two position in global market share for enterprise UC.

Mitel’s acquisition of Unify from Atos had been an ongoing story in 2023.

Mitel entered negotiations with Atos to acquire Unify in January, stressing the company’s ambition to consolidate its position in the UC market after it moved away from UCaaS when it announced a tie-up with RingCentral. Mitel’s refocus on UC at the expense of UCaaS signalled a realigned strategy for the company.

Nick Riggott, Mitel’s Head of UKISA, told UC Today in 2023 why the Unify acquisition represented a “significant opportunity” for Mitel: “The Unify deal is incredibly exciting and is ultimately an acceleration of our strategy(…) Together, we’ll be able to be the prominent UC leader globally with a collective customer base of more than 75 million users in over 100 countries and a channel community of more than 5,500 global partners.”

“The immediate opportunities for growth in enterprise with existing customers are huge, and it’s going to drive significant value for all stakeholders as well.

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