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France's Thales to Buy Imperva in $3.6B Cybersecurity Deal

PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - France's Thales said on Tuesday it would buy U.S. cybersecurity company Imperva in a deal worth $3.6 billion as it steps up expansion away from its historic defence business to the war against hacking.

Thales, which will be buying Imperva from software investor company Thoma Bravo, said the deal would result in a medium-term boost to its earnings per share and would add close to $500 million of revenue.

Shares in Europe's largest defence electronics provider, which also makes civil aircraft parts and digital security systems, fell about 1.5% in early trading.

"This really changes our scale in civil cybersecurity," Thales Chief Executive Patrice Caine told analysts, adding that the deal represented a rare opportunity to become a premium player on a global scale in cybersecurity.

Cyberattacks have become the top worry of global corporate executives, according to a recent survey by PwC. France last year opened a dedicated campus outside Paris to tackle the scourge of hacking.

Thales said the price of the deal implied an enterprise value of 17 times 2024 operating earnings.

"These are punchy multiples for the aerospace & defence industry but much more typical for the cybersecurity space," Jefferies analysts Chloe Lemarie said in a note.

Thales said buying Imperva would generate around $110 million of pretax synergies, including $50 million of cost savings and $60 million linked to revenue opportunities.

The deal will be financed by a mixture of cash and new debt.

The acquisition - which comes days after Thales announced talks to buy Cobham Aerospace Communications for $1.1 billion - is the company's biggest expansion since it bought digital identity company Gemalto in 2019 for $5.6 billion.

Thales officials said their main priority now would be to integrate those two businesses. However, the company did not rule out further "bolt-on" acquisitions within its core business.

Under CEO Caine, Thales has boosted its civil cybersecurity activities to grow beyond its core defence businesses and has said it is seeking to become the market leader in Europe, against rivals such as Orange Cyberdefense and Atos.

Thales said the deal would close in 2024 subject to approvals, and did not anticipate significant hurdles.

CenterView and Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisers to Thales.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Kim Coghill and Bernadette Baum

Source: Reuters

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