Dassault Systemes Targets M&A in Simulation and Life Sciences

  • Company prepared to chase deals over $1 billion in key areas
  • Tesla, Blue Origin, Joby Aviation among software clinets

Dassault Systemes SE, the European software maker that counts Tesla Inc. and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin LLC among its clients, is prepared to chase deals over $1 billion in augmented reality and life sciences.

“We’ve been doing acquisitions in our sector from a few million to a billion” dollars, Chief Executive Officer Bernard Charles said in an interview. “We are looking at transactions that would fit in that range, or even higher if necessary, but it has to be relevant.”

Bernard Charles

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The French company, with a 21.4 billion euro ($23.4 billion) market cap and about 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) of cash and marketable securities on its balance sheet, creates 3D design software for a range of industries. Its biggest acquisition was the $646 million deal for U.S. competitor Biovia Corp. in 2014, a move to expand its offering in molecular chemistry and life sciences.

Dassault is the largest provider of engineering software, with about a fifth of the market, according to data from research firm IDC. But while Charles said any acquisition wouldn’t be targeted at boosting market share, rivals are catching up. In November, Siemens AG announced a $4.5 billion purchase of U.S. software firm Mentor Graphics Corp., making the venture the third-largest in market share behind Synopsys Inc.

Shares in Dassault are up 14 percent so far this year, compared with a 9 percent increase in France’s benchmark CAC 40.

Dassault rose to prominence in the mid-1990s, after the Boeing 777 became the first passenger jet to be created via its computer-aided software from start to finish. In a push to diversify, the company has been busy courting U.S. tech firms. Charles flagged Faraday Future and Joby Aviation -- the flying-taxi startup -- as some of the company’s newer clients.

“We are working with all electrical vehicle companies in Silicon Valley," Charles said. “All of them in the last two months have decided to adopt our 3D Experience platform.”

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