Thales to snap up Australia’s biggest listed cyber firm

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Joseph Brookes

Australia’s largest listed cybersecurity firm Tesserent looks set to be acquired by Thales, with the French defence giant making a $176 million offer on Tuesday. Tesserent would retain its brand but become the lead cybersecurity offering of Thales in Australia and New Zealand.

The ASX-listed Tesserent offers cybersecurity services and products to large organisations and is one of the largest suppliers to the federal government and defence sector.

On Tuesday, it announced it had entered into a binding Scheme Implementation Deed to sell all its shares to Thales Australia for $176 million – a 165 per cent premium on its last closing price.

The proposal has been unanimously endorsed by the Tesserent board in the absence of a better offer, but is subject to approval from shareholders and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Tesserent listed in 2015 as a managed services security provider, going on to acquire a dozen security firms to build out an “end-to-end suite” of cybersecurity services. It currently employs around 500 people and had annual turnover of $185 million last year.

The Australian company now boasts enterprise and state and federal government clients and operates under a stated mission to be the “sovereign cybersecurity provider of choice” in the local market.

In February, it added former top bureaucrat turned consultant Anthony Sheehan to its board in a strategic move as the Albanese government overhauls the national cyber strategy.

Tesserent now looks set to join French Defence giant Thales through an acquisition by its Australian subsidiary, which employs around 3,800 people. It will continue to operate as Tesserent but with a “Cyber Solutions by Thales” tagline.

“Together we will address the growing cyber needs in our country, including those of the Australian government and Defence sectors,” Tesserent chief executive Kurt Hansen said in a statement.

“I am convinced this transaction would represent a great opportunity to further grow Tesserent’s business and its people.”

Thales Australia chief Jeff Connolly said the Australian firm represents a “highly complementary” addition to its cyber offerings.

“We are excited by the combination, especially given our collective alignment to advising multiple levels of government, including national defence and clients with critical infrastructure,” Mr Connolly said.

“We are committed to growing the business and are confident it will be great opportunity to further grow Tesserent’s business and people.”

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