Atos buys Bull for £503m

French services supplier Atos buys Bull for £502.6m in a deal that could create one of the largest cloud services firms in Europe

French services supplier Atos has bought Bull for £502.6m (€620m) in a deal that could see the creation of one of the largest cloud services enterprises in Europe.

Atos plans to use the acquisition to enhance its offerings in manufacturing, healthcare and public sector deployments, as well as reinforcing its presence in some key markets, including Africa and Brazil.

With a history dating back to the 1930s, Bull was backed by the French government during the 1980s and early 1990s and as recently as 10 years ago was still receiving millions of euros in state aid. It has since turned itself into a cloud computing specialist, and provider of security and big data services, which Atos hopes to turn to its advantage to create a European services leader.

Atos’ Thierry Breton, himself a former group CEO and vice chairman at Bull, said the acquisition formed a major step along the road towards fulfilling the firm’s "2016 Ambition" of becoming a tier one company and “the preferred European global IT brand”.

“Bull’s highly recognised teams in advanced technologies ideally complement Atos’s large-scale operations,” he said.

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Breton’s opposite number, Philippe Vannier, chairman and CEO at Bull, added: “Bull Group will strongly benefit from joining Atos, one of the most successful global IT companies, in order to accelerate “One Bull” strategic plan implementation.”

Atos predicted it will now be able to target cloud services sales of around €400m, and plans to create a big data and cyber security practice – which will be branded as Bull – which will aim for annual sales of around €500m, levering both Atos’ reach and Bull’s talents around security and high-performance computing.

Elsewhere, Atos said its managed services business would be complemented by an additional €500m of revenues, with Bull bringing mission-critical maintenance and mainframe migration services, as well as shoring up its partnership with EMC. On systems integration, Atos is already eyeing cross-selling opportunities into vertical markets where Bull is already strong, especially manufacturing, banking, defence and public-sector clients.

Atos’ offer – set at €4.90 per share, which represents a 22% premium on Bull’s closing price on 23 May – has been approved unanimously by both boards, and is expected to close later in the summer. Atos is targeting EPS accretion of over 10% by this time in 2016m and over the same timescale, hopes to make cost savings of €80m.

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