Atos says Airbus flew off, no longer interested in infosec and big data biz

Ailing tech integrator takes a hard hit... share price down by up to 20% this morning

Atos' share price sank as much as 20 percent this morning on confirmation that Airbus is no longer interested in buying the big data and security (BDS) parts of the crumbling tech empire.

The pair got round the negotiating table in January to thrash out a potential agreement. Atos said at the time it had received two letters indicating interest in buying BDS, but only the aerospace corp had offered to snaffle the whole unit.

In a statement to the Paris Stock Exchange, Atos said this morning "it has been informed by Airbus that discussions related to the sale of its BDS business will not proceed."

"Atos is analyzing the resulting situation and actively evaluating strategic alternatives that will take into consideration the sovereign imperatives of the French state," the company statement continued.

Due to the dissolution of the sale talks, Atos is rescheduling its 2023 earnings release to the "near future in order to evaluate strategic options."

Reg readers with more than a passing interest in the struggles of Atos may remember that a year ago Airbus was in the frame to invest in Atos at a group level but was warned off by activist investors. One stockholder, TCI Fund Management, branded the transaction as a "bailout" of a "company that is burdened with unsustainable levels of debt and other liabilities."

The stock market reacted badly to today's confirmation of Airbus shutting down the talks, with Atos' share price slumping by a fifth.

The saga at the French headquartered integrator shows no sign of concluding just yet. Previous management hatched a plan to split the business into two back in 2022 with the legacy components - datacenter, hosting, outsourcing and workplace tech - moving under the Tech Foundation banner, and security, big data and cloud moving into Eviden (initially called Evidien).

Tech Foundation was due to be sold to Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský's EP Equity Investment (EPEI) company but those talks also broke down weeks ago. The Eviden part of Atos was due to be spun off as a separately traded legal entity of the Paris Stock Exchange but then Airbus expressed interest in BDS.

The five-year market cap high for Atos was €9.84 billion ($10.67 billion) and today the business is worth €191.59 million ($207.85 million).

Resolution to this situation is needed sooner rather than later, especially with debt repayments on the horizon. ®

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