France's Thales sees more cybersecurity sales after strong 2017

PARIS (Reuters) - French defense electronics group Thales TCFP.PA enjoyed a jump in sales at its cybersecurity business in 2017 and expects further strong growth in the coming years, said executive Laurent Maury.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of French defence and electronics group Thales is seen at the company's headquarters in Neuilly, near Paris, May 20, 2008. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

Maury said the business generated about 900 million euros ($1.10 billion) in sales over 2017, up from 700 million euros a year earlier. He added it is expected to grow by about 10 percent annually in the coming years.

Governments and companies are behind a surge in demand for services and products aimed at better protecting data and information systems, in the wake of several global cyber attacks last year.

“We’re only at the dawn of a world in which this kind of risk emerges, constantly evolving with increased virulence,” Maury told reporters on Monday.

“Every additional interconnection represents a potential vulnerability,” he added.

Last December, research firm Gartner published a report which forecast that worldwide enterprise security spending would total $96.3 billion in 2018, an increase of 8 percent from 2017.

Thales has strengthened its range of cybersecurity products over the last few years.

In 2016, it bought data protection services provider Vormetric for 375 million euros ($460 million) - a deal which Maury said had enabled Thales to win a data security contract with BNP Paribas BNPP.PA, France's biggest bank.

Thales, led by chief executive Patrice Caine, is also expecting its 4.8 billion-euro ($5.9 billion) takeover of digital security group Gemalto GTO.AS, due to be finalised later this year, to reinforce its cybersecurity expertise further.

On the cybersecurity front, Thales' competitors include the likes of telecoms operator Orange ORAN.PA, digital consulting firm Atos ATOS.PA and Raytheon RTN.

($1 = 0.8151 euros)

Reporting by Mathieu RosemainEditing by Sudip Kar-Gupta