Atos offers $845M for Bull to boost its security and HPC service offering

French IT services company Atos wants Bull's security and HPC skills to help expand its cloud and managed services businesses

French IT services company Atos is seeking to beef up its cybersecurity and high-performance computing offering with a €620 million (US$845 million) bid for servers and services specialist Bull.

Atos wants to acquire the company for its proprietary security technologies and also its high-powered server business. Bull had 13 entries in last November's Top500 supercomputing list, three of them in the top 30.

But Atos's ambitions for the HPC business go beyond simply putting its name on supercomputers: It plans to draw on Bull's HPC expertise to boost its cloud offerings, where demand for big data services often requires powerful machines to do the processing. It calculates that the combined company would be the second-largest provider of cloud services in Western Europe, after Amazon Web Services and ahead of Microsoft and IBM. Atos reckons it is already the fourth-largest cloud provider in Western Europe with its role in the Canopy joint venture with VMware and EMC.

Atos plans to run the high-performance cloud services and the cybersecurity activities under the Bull brand.

While Atos highlighted Bull's HPC and security activities as pluses, the company makes the majority of its revenue from systems integration, consulting and managed services, much like its would-be suitor. Cloud operations, big data and security accounted for just 35 percent of Bull's €1.26 billion revenue in 2013.

Geographically, the companies have similar footprints, with both strongest in their home country, France, where together they had annual revenue of over €2 billion in 2013, over one-fifth of their combined total revenue of €9.9 billion. Both have a strong position in banking and the public sector.

The companies have identified synergies amounting to less than 1 percent of revenue, planning to cut an estimated €80 million from the annual cost of procurement, support functions and real estate.

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Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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