Mathieu Rosemain and Tasila Hamel

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus, the world’s biggest plane maker, is aiming to become the No. 1 investor in Atos’ soon-to-be spun-off unit Evidian, the French IT consulting firm said, amid scrutiny of the asset seen as a strategic government asset.

If successful, the deal would make Airbus a key industrial partner for Evidian and give it a say in a new entity that brings together Atos’ most coveted assets, such as its BDS cyber security division and supercomputers.

Atos, whose clients include the French administration and army, will in return receive a much-needed investment from the European industrial group as it seeks to implement its demerger plan after a troubled period marked by a management crisis, heavy losses and plummeting shares. price fluctuations.

In late morning shares in Atos were up more than 8%.

Airbus has offered to acquire a 29.9% stake in Evidian, which combines some of Atos’ most coveted assets, such as its cyber security division BDS, Atos said in a statement.

The “indicative offer” for the stake — below the 30 percent threshold that would automatically trigger a full bid for the organization — was not disclosed. The talks are not exclusive, Athos said.

Atos values ​​Evidian at about 7 billion euros, including 3 billion euros in debt, a source familiar with the matter said.

At this valuation, a 29.9% stake in Evidian would be worth €1.2 billion. The market capitalization of Atos is approaching 1.3 billion. The company declined to comment.

Last September, Atos rejected an unsolicited bid from rival onepoint and British private equity fund ICG for an estimated enterprise value of 4.2 billion euros ($4.1 billion).

“Through this proposed large-scale partnership, we will accelerate Evidian’s industrial project and future growth, while ensuring technological sovereignty in France and Europe in the important areas of cloud, advanced computing, cybersecurity and digitalization,” said Atos Chairman Bertrand Meunier.

Atos, formed in part by a series of acquisitions led by former CEO Thierry Breton, now EU industry chief and former French finance minister, has deep ties to France’s security world, in which the state has a major say over ties.

Atos provides communications for France’s military and intelligence services and makes servers to make supercomputers capable of processing massive amounts of data for research or to develop the nascent artificial intelligence industry.

Former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is a member of the Atos board. The representative of the Ministry of Finance refused to comment on this news.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Tasil Hamel; Editing by Tom Hogg, Rashmi Eich and Bernadette Baum)

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