With the acquisition of Arkoon, Cassidian wants to form a giant European cybersecurity

After buying Netasq last fall, Cassidian CyberSecurity, security division of EADS information systems, today announced the acquisition of Arkoon Network Security. An operation that is part of a process of forming a safety champion large. And deeply rooted in Europe.

Fleur Pellerin probably not see the operation of an evil eye. Minister of Digital Economy expressed , at the International Forum on Cybersecurity (FIC), which was held in Lille late January, his desire to see “Cybersecurity is more structured.” For her, “France suffers from a lack of effective industrial policy in this area,” mainly because of actors’ too scattered. ” And to some, however, the promotion of regional champions like Thales, Morpho, Safran, Bull or EADS. It fell pretty well: the subsidiary Cassidian CyberSecurity latter, specialized in the protection of information systems, had a few months ago to buy Netasq . The acquisition, announced this morning, Arkoon Network Security completes the picture and fills the wishes of the minister.

Build a complete range …

For the record, NETASQ provides trusted solutions certified EAL4 +, adapted to the requirements of government for applications requiring the highest levels of privacy and protection. Program: intrusion prevention, firewall, protection against viruses and spyware, and content filtering. In announcing the acquisition, Cassidian explained wanting to “complete its portfolio of products and services” based on three pillars: pillar Cyber ​​Defence & professional services, which proposes the establishment of centers operational security pillar trust infrastructure, which “aims to develop technologies of trust (cryptography, digital identity management),” and finally the pillar “secure mobility […] specializes in providing products and services for securing mobile devices new generation. “Incidentally, Netasq had a few months earlier, strengthened its offering with the acquisition of the technology EdenWall then bankrupt. The French manufacturer suggested security appliances dedicated to connection filtering based on user identity. Although the solution of event management and information security (SIEM) Prelude remained outside the scope of the operation.

Redemption which regulates the issue of sovereignty?
This acquisition Arkoon Network Security Cassidian he be enough to appease those who feared the sovereignty of European networks and for their protection? Maybe. In fact, the list of certified according to Common Criteria security published by Anssi networking products is now monopolized by the Industrial Union: Alcatel-Lucent, Bull, Thales, or Cassidian – with Arkoon and NETASQ products. Only intruder in the list: former French specialist (SIEM system information management and security event) ExaProtect acquired in 2009 by LogLogic himself passed since under banner Tibco.

The aim of sovereignty does lead to the purchase of other players in this list – in other areas – for a European champions? Keynectis-OpenTrust already seems well in hand, held including Gemalto, Morpho (Safran group), the Caisse des Dépôts or Thierry Dassault Holding and Imprimerie Nationale. So maybe Dictao or Prim’X. But their capital is closed, eliminating the risk of a hostile takeover.

In any case, Jean-Michel Orozco, president of Cassidian CyberSecurity assure no, look at the list of certified products published by Anssi to identify new prey of his company “is the proper technique. We have a very clear strategy, very focused. ”

For its part, Arkoon Network Security has built its offer around a collaborative container security (SecurityBox) EAL 3 + certified and qualified by Anssi and NATO, multifunction appliances (Fast 360 range: IPS, IPSec VPN, anti -virus, anti-spam, URL filtering, etc..) also qualified at level EAL 3 + by Anssi and StormShield a solution to protect the workstation based on whitelists complemented by an anti-virus with the redemption its publisher SkyRecon by Arkoon in September 2009. A redemption that allowed such complete functionality of a Stormshield with that of SecurityBox while SkyRecon previously provided to equip the tool functions to prevent data loss (DLP). Stormshield has notably been recently adopted by the Joint Directorate of Infrastructure Networks and Information Systems Defense (DIRISI).

For a European champion …

In a statement, Cassidian and Arkoon stratégiqu emphasize the dimension “of their merger, in a perspective of” development of European industrial fabric products and cybersecurity solutions, “including the establishment of an offer to serve as a” solid foundation for the security of computer networks of governments, critical infrastructure and strategic industries. “In the same statement, Jean-Michel Orozco, president of Cassidian CyberSecurity says a desire to” a world-class industrial solutions provider European confidence necessary to the security of information systems emerge. “A message that sounds like an echo calls for the defense of a certain numerical sovereignty agreed at the last International Forum on Cybersecurity. An answer, in any case, says Jean-Michel Orozco, to “customers who are increasingly demanding more European security solutions and certified in Europe.”

For its part, Thierry Rouquet, CEO Arkoon, believes that the purchase “not only meets a logic of sovereignty but does not think that this logic is completely excluded. “Referring to the requirements of customers for whom this question may be important, it determines that it is not” inconsistent to combine economic logic and the logic of sovereignty. ”

Remains whether this is a strategy of building a European champion and dewatering market, limit the scorched earth, of cutting the grass under the feet of competitors in the world around putting his hand on suppliers recognized in particular by the Anssi. Redundancy between supply Arkoon Fast 360 and the Netasq and is particularly troubling. A form of protectionist arms race that dare not speak its name?

A nice gift to shareholders

Not for Jean-Michel Orozco. While recognizing the redundancy, ensures “that is not as important as you might think.” For him, “medium-term, the value of this operation is to move the two entities in a coordinated manner in order to provide a unique range without redundancy.” Of course, “it will not happen in a minute but in the long term […] while maintaining compatibility with existing products.” Especially, for the president of Cassidian CyberSecurity, this should allow to build a research base and unique development with the critical mass needed to “compete with our American competitors” and identify ways to “invest in new generations of products meet the needs of defense markets, governments, and operators of infrastructure vital “targets advanced persistent threats (APT), he recalls. Logic confirms Thierry Rouquet for him, redundancies exist, but by bringing two players of a certain size in France, but “small” in Europe and especially in the world, Cassidian saw an opportunity to “create a European leader “. Arkoon about it and have the means to “go one level of growth.”

Cybersecurity Cassidian plans to buy 83.9% stake Arkoon Network Security, maximum € 3.25 per share (against € 2.4 in closing April 26) – a nice value as the action does not not known during the highest since the end of 2008 and after a long fall, she will wait until the middle of 2012 to finally rebound. Thierry Rouquet had “hoped that the price is higher,” but he noted that the floating part of the capital of the company is “relatively low,” the order of 17%. A share that, at least for now, is expected to remain traded. The closing of the transaction is expected in the month of May.

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