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Entrust Datacard lined up to unburden Thales of nCipher biz as price for Gemalto buyout

Profitable secure SIM firm in the bag by March, Thales hopes

French defence tech conglomerate Thales has flogged off its hardware security module biz nCipher Security, a sale demanded by competition regulators over Thales' buyout of Gemalto.

nCipher Security, an £87m firm which began its corporate life in the UK, will be acquired by bank cards 'n' passports biz Entrust Datacard, the artist formerly known as Datacard Group.

Philippe Keryer, Thales' exec veep of strategy, research and technology, stated: "This announcement marks a key step in the ongoing process regarding the acquisition of Gemalto which we expect to close by end March 2019."

The company said in a statement today that the sale satisfies "commitments made by Thales to several competition authorities to divest this business to a suitable purchaser in order to ensure a strongly competitive market for GP HSM [general purpose hardware security module] solutions and to finalize the acquisition of Gemalto".

The deal is subject to approval from a host of countries' regulators, including the US Department of Justice, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and the New Zealand Commerce Commission. The EU Commission is also required to give its blessing to the sale – which, on top of all of that, is conditional on Thales actually closing its purchase of Gemalto.

The British hardware encryption company was originally snapped up by Thales just over a decade ago for around £50m. The price of today's sale was not disclosed.

Thales swoops on nCipher for hardware encryption goodness


The £4.2bn Gemalto buyout was announced in December 2017 as Thales and Atos duked it out, bidding ever-higher sums in order to acquire the business. The huge amounts of money being flung around were seemingly out of proportion to the embarrassing revelation that a large chunk of the company's key business – secure SIMs for mobile phones – had been allegedly compromised by British and American spies in 2010. At the time Gemalto denied that its SIM encryption keys had been stolen.

Nonetheless, that little blip doesn't seem to have stopped Thales. Last year Gemalto posted profits of €332m on revenues of €3bn. ®

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