Governance & Risk Management , Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)

Airbus Backtracks From Planned Atos Cybersecurity Takeover

Atos Share Plunges Further Following the Failed Bid
Airbus Backtracks From Planned Atos Cybersecurity Takeover
Airbus won't buy Atos' Big Data and Security business unit. (Image: Shutterstock)

European aerospace giant Airbus on Tuesday called off a multibillion-euro plan to acquire a cybersecurity unit of French IT consultancy firm Atos. Share values of cash-strapped Atos fell approximately 20% by the end of the trading day. Airbus' value rose by nearly 1%.

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Airbus in January said it was in the early stages of talks to acquire Atos' Big Data and Security business unit, making an initial offer of between 1.5 billion euros and 1.8 billion euros, or $1.63 billion and $1.79 billion.

"After careful consideration of all aspects of a potential acquisition of Atos' BDS, Airbus has decided it will no longer pursue discussions with Atos about this potential transaction," the company said on Tuesday.

A person familiar with the matter said Airbus called off the deal after an Airbus board of directors meeting on Monday.

The deal's collapse marks the second time in a year that Airbus has backed away from an attempt to buy Atos cybersecurity assets. This time last year, the European aerospace and defense company abandoned a proposal to acquire a minority stake in Atos' $4.8 billion Evidian cybersecurity, big data and digital business (see: Airbus, Atos Ax Deal for Minority Stake in Evidian Cyber Arm).

In a statement on Tuesday, Atos said it is "analyzing the resulting situation and actively evaluating strategic alternatives." The company postponed its 2023 earnings release to an indefinite date.

Gartner in 2022 ranked Paris-based Atos as the world's largest managed security services vendor, serving many public and private-sector clients. The company is struggling to pay down over 2 billion euros in debt, driven by customers moving from on-premises IT services to cloud-based services.

With its debt set to mature in 2025, the French firm has been trying to sell its assets in a bid to raise funds. Earlier, the company announced plans to sell its loss-making business line focused on managed services and hybrid cloud infrastructure, Tech Foundations, to Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský. That deal collapsed.

Citing an unidentified Airbus source, Reuters reported the company backtracked from the deal due to concerns about risk and internal strife at Atos.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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