Airbus plots exit from government comms biz

Defence mobile, spookery, cyber-sec on the auction block

Airbus is reportedly considering selling its public safety radio business, with Alcatel-Lucent and Thales apparently interested in writing a cheque to obtain the operation.

Bloomberg's off-the-record briefers say that €500 million-plus business is slated for sale by the end of the current quarter.

Originally formed when Airbus picked up the operation from Nokia ten years ago for €90 million, Airbus Communications Intelligence and Security has product and service businesses spanning satcomms, land radio, and geo-imaging from various satellites, and is an operator of network security operations centres.

The Bloomberg report says Thales has baulked at the €1 billion asking price, while other bidders include BAE Systems and Dorset-based Cobham.

Airbus first announced its intention to sell the communications unit last September.

Alcatel-Lucent – currently in the process of finalising its acquisition by Nokia – is familiar with the Airbus business, since Bloomberg notes the two firms have been working together to try and break into the US public safety communications market.

Any sale would attract considerable regulatory interest in Europe, given the sensitivity of the business. Its customers include national security agencies in France, Germany and the UK, the report says. ®

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