Atos or Thales to succeed Palantir?
Atos, Thales and Airbus and several other startups and large French groups are on the starting blocks in replace Palantir as a privileged partner of DGSI.
Airbus shows interest in Atos subsidiary Evidian
A few months ago, Atos announced the division of its activities. On the one hand there is Evidian for the area of cybersecurity, the cloud and supercomputers, and on the other hand there are Tech Foundations with historical businesses falling: the management of infrastructure parks, digital workspaces and professional service. This strategy will allow the French giant to replaced American Palantir among the French secret services, within the framework of a call for tenders whose deadline is approaching.
At the time of the split, Atos was clearly betting big on Evidian. This new entity aims to position itself in high-growth markets, driven by the transition to the public cloud, the growing need for cybersecurity, the generalization of big data and analytics, as well as the development of intelligent applications. . Evidian took 70% of the capital of Atos, and Tech Foundations 30%.
On Monday, January 2, The echoes announced that the giant Airbus is considering taking a minority stake in the capital of this new company. A warning for Atos and Thales, the two main companies specializing in cloud computing and supercomputers in France, that only now understood that it would be necessary. rely on the French aeronautics group in the race for a contract with the French secret services. For its part, Airbus said it did not want to comment on these rumors at the moment, but specified that it “ in ongoing discussions with partners, customers and suppliers “.
However, the European giant believes that “ these conversations remain private “. For many observers, Airbus’ interest in Evidian is not surprising “. By acquiring a stake, even a minority one, in Evidian, Airbus ensures continuous and continuous access to the secure communication systems of military vehicles. The cybersecurity aspect is also of increasing of interest in the aeronautics group. On this topic, Airbus recently lifted the veil on a new entity specializing in the field, called Airbus Protect.
At the end of 2019, the French secret services had, due to the lack of a French solution, renewed their contract with Palantir. At the time, the DGSI (the General Directorate of Internal Security) explained that no alternative was really ready. And this, despite the heated controversy surrounding the American company. Emmanuel Tonnelier, then president of the Gicat Data Intelligence cluster, explained that “ the French secret services cannot deny themselves a night of terrorist detection solutions. It must be recognized, no alternative solution in France has succeeded since 2016 “.
Which company will win the DGSI contract?
It’s 2023 and things have changed. Three French companies are therefore on the starting line to try to win the contract. On the Airbus side, some analysts believe that Atos could use a strategy effectively to protect itself from its historical competitor, Thales, which was already working for NATO on similar topics. had 9 candidates initially, only 3 passed the DGSI filters. Now a new phase begins.
One that will determine which of the three companies is best suited from an operational standpoint, to take over from Palantir. Meanwhile, the American company owned by Peter Thiel continues to operate. In the call for tenders, there are two lots to be filled. The DGSI with bigger and bigger ambitions and therefore drafted two different requests. The first is to convert audio to text, identify a person in a photo or video. This is called data enrichment. The second batch concerns data processing and analysis, to perform cross-checks and make the data speak.
The alliance of Atos and Thales called Athea (for Heterogeneous Data Processing Tool), a joint venture working for the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on artificial intelligence applications based on the exploitation of sensitive data, has been selected for second chance. batches, that of data analysis. There are also lesser-known companies such as French ChapsVision, selected for the same lot. Competition in the first batch, we also found Blueway.
Among the companies excluded is Altrnativ, a company founded by Eric Léandri, former director of the French search engine Qwant. Sopra or Bloom, a company backed by Dassault Systèmes. Ideally, the French secret services would have liked to have only one interlocutor in both aspects. Specifically to connect the two interfaces more easily.
Thales has also expressed interest in Evidian
Atos and Thales are well known. In 2021, by co-founding Athea, they developed ways to “ pool investment, skills and expertise “, detailed Marc Darmon, deputy general manager of secure information and communication systems at Thales. Since several months, the relationship between the two companies worsened.
According to some analysts, Atos suspects Thales’ lawyers of spreading rumors about the poor financial health of the French giant, ” to weaken its negotiating skills and make it deviate from its split plan “. Like Airbus, Thales will also be interested in part of Evidian’s activities. According to The echoesThales especially looking at the cybersecurity side of the new subsidiary. A possible acquisition of this division would lead to a new dissolution of Evidian, which is probably not on the agenda.
However, the French group specified that if it “ interested in any cybersecurity assets that may be sold, there are no ongoing discussions with Atos about this “.