The French Government Moves to Acquire Sovereign Activities of Atos

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has taken action to acquire the “sovereign activities” of Atos, a French tech giant facing significant debt. Atos is burdened with nearly five billion euros of debt and plays a crucial role in managing various critical operations for the French government, including running supercomputers for the nuclear deterrent, holding contracts with the French army, and serving as the IT partner for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

The move by Le Maire aims to prevent foreign ownership of these strategic activities, particularly in light of the cybersecurity implications for the Paris Olympics. The concern is that allowing foreign actors to control these operations could compromise national security and potentially lead to sensitive information being exposed.

Le Maire has indicated that he sent a non-binding letter of intent over the weekend to acquire all the sovereign activities of Atos. These activities include supercomputers, servers utilizing artificial intelligence and quantum computing, as well as cybersecurity products. These operations generate a substantial annual turnover of 900 million euros and employ around 4,000 staff, primarily based in France.

State Support for Atos

In addition to the acquisition of sovereign activities, the French state has already provided a 50-million-euro loan to Atos to help stabilize the company. This loan gives the government oversight of critical big data operations within the company, ensuring that key functions are not compromised. Furthermore, discussions have been ongoing with industrial groups to address the financial challenges faced by Atos.

The actions taken by the French government regarding Atos highlight the complexities of managing key national assets in a globalized economy. By acquiring the sovereign activities of Atos and providing financial support, the government is aiming to safeguard critical operations and protect national interests. The move underscores the importance of ensuring that strategic capabilities remain under national control, especially in sensitive sectors such as cybersecurity and defense.

Technology

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