PARIS (Reuters) -Shares in French IT group Atos rallied on Monday, after newspaper Les Echos reported Airbus had started "exploratory talks" to take a minority share in the firm's cybersecurity unit, citing unnamed sources.
Airbus said in an emailed statement that it would not comment on speculation, adding "we are in constant discussion with our partners, customers and suppliers across the industry, but these conversations remain private in nature".
Atos said that as part of its strategic plan, "the company had initiated exploratory discussions with potential future minority shareholders in the scope of activities grouped under the name of Evidian".
Atos shares, which lost more than half of their value last year, rose around 7% in early Paris trade on Monday.
Atos last year said it planned to split into two publicly listed companies by spinning off its cybersecurity operations along with some other units into a new unit dubbed Evidian. The remaining part would include its declining IT infrastructure management services.
"These discussions are not sufficiently advanced to allow any further comment", Atos said.
(Writing by Ingrid Melander and Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Bradley Perrett, Kirsten Donovan)