France’s Thales could be tempted by some Atos defence assets, says CFO

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 12:06 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – Thales opened the door on Tuesday to buying a limited part of the strategic assets of troubled French IT group Atos after the French government floated a rescue package.

The government provisionally offered at the weekend to acquire various strategically important assets including Atos’ Advanced Computing, Mission-Critical Systems and Cyber Products, and said it would also seek industrial partners.

Thales, a defence group partially owned by the French state, has repeatedly said it is not interested in Atos’ computing assets known as Big Data & Security (BDS) because it does not fit its fast-expanding civil cybersecurity business.

But asked whether the situation had changed following the government’s intervention and search for potential partners, Chief Financial Officer Pascal Bouchiat said Thales could look at limited defence-related assets if they became available.

“We are not interested in BDS,” Bouchiat told reporters. “It’s true that inside BDS, which is essentially a cybersecurity services activity, there is another activity that is much more modest in size which is related to defence and security.”

Speaking in a quarterly results media briefing, he added: “If at some point this particular defence and security business, which is a minority of BDS, were on sale, then we would not object to looking at it.”

He declined to comment on whether the French government had already approached Thales, in which it owns 26% of the shares and 35% of the voting rights.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)