Aerospace and defense group Thales has agreed to buy chipmaker Gemalto for 4.8 billion euros (US$5.64 billion), trumping an earlier bid by fellow French firm Atos to expand in the fast-growing digital security market, Reuters reports.
The bidding race for Gemalto has come after a difficult year for the Franco-Dutch group. Profit warnings have hurt its share price and overshadowed its attempt to shift from a slowing market for phone SIM cards towards security services such as data encryption and biometric passports.
“This is a terrific project,” Thales chief executive Patrice Caine told reporters on Sunday. “In digital, Gemalto and Thales are like twins.”
Caine said his firm’s bid represented a total of 5.6 billion euros (US$6.58 billion), including 800 million of debt in addition to its offer for shares.
This showed its basic 51 euro per share offer for Gemalto was worth 4.8 billion euros in comparison with Atos’ 4.3 billion bid based on a 46 euro per share price.
Atos, which saw its offer rejected by Gemalto, said in a statement later on Sunday that it would not pursue its bid, although it would be open to talks with Gemalto if Thales’ offer fell through.
Thales’ all-cash bid has the unanimous backing of the both companies’ boards, Thales and Gemalto said in an earlier statement.
The agreement calls for Thales’ digital activities to be merged with Gemalto to create a business with 3.5 billion euros in sales which would be a top-three global player in digital security, they said.
Christophe Castaner, a junior minister in the French government and head of the party of President Emmanuel Macron, told France 3 television the deal was “in the right direction”.
The French state is the largest shareholder in Thales, while state-owned bank Bpifrance is Gemalto’s second-biggest shareholder.
Bpifrance said it was favorable to consolidation between two French companies in the tech sector.
Thales will finance the offer through its available cash resources and a 4 billion euro fully committed credit arrangement secured for the Gemalto offer, it said.
Thales and Gemalto said their digital security entity would generate pre-tax cost synergies of between 100 million and 150 million euros by 2021, as well as meaningful revenue synergies.
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