About Bull

Mainframe appeal

Bull, a France-based IT services company, specializes in the design and manufacture of open, scalable platforms and mainframes for data centers and high-performance computing.  Ranking as one of Europe's biggest computer hardware manufacturers, the company's flagship product line is the NovaScale range of servers, which are produced in multiple formats and are able to stand alone or as part of a cluster or grid.  It also offers electronic storage products, as well as security products and software for a variety of functions.  In addition to computer products, Bull provides IT services built around five key capabilities: consulting, integration, outsourcing, security and network solutions.

The company's clients come from a number of industries but tend to be concentrated in the public, health care, finance, telecom, manufacturing and defense sectors.  Geographically, Bull operates in over 100 countries, with the vast majority of activity taking place in Europe, which accounted for over 86.5 percent of revenue in 2009 bolstered by home country France, which alone made up 52 percent of the year's revenue.  The U.S. market rendered 2 percent, 4 percent for Latin America and 7.5 percent for the remainder markets around the world.

Landing punches

Bull started out in 1931 as H.W. Egli Bull, an enterprise created to capitalize on the punch-card machine patents of the deceased Norwegian engineer Frederick Rosing Bull.  Punch-card technology was a means of recording digital information, originally used to control textile looms and put to use in the early 20th century by primitive digital computers for data storage and processing.  The company's first products were simple tabulators; in the 1950s, however, the machine designs evolved into the Gamma 3, a computer approximately the size of a large book shelf capable of 64 program steps.  Bull rose to become the second-largest manufacturer of punch-card equipment in Europe, exceeded only by IBM, and in the 1960s became the largest European computer maker.

Grabbing it by its horns

Following an early reorganization and a name change to Compagnie des Machines Bull in 1933, the firm would, over the coming decades, either own or be partially owned (and, in many cases, renamed) by General Electric, Honeywell and Motorola.  In 1982, it was nationalized in a French government initiative to merge all of the country's computer operations.  Although Bull was reprivatized in 1994, the government remains a minority owner, as does government-controlled France Telecom, each holding slightly more than 15 percent of the company.  The French state does not take that minority ownership lightly.  After doling out â'¬900 million in taxpayer's money to keep the company afloat during the period of nationalization, the government, in 1994, diverted another â'¬300 million as a final bailout.  However, in January 2005, with Bull reeling from the steep decline of the tech market, Uncle Jacques again had to step in, providing â'¬17 million to help the company repay a shareholder advance from earlier in the decade.  The lending shareholder: the French government.  Since that time, the company seems to have turned a corner.  In 2005, it launched a three-year strategic plan known as Horizon 2008, the stated goal of which is billion in annual sales and a reputation as the leader in European IT.  A major component of the plan is driving up services revenue until it's the top earning company segment.

Year of the Bull

The start of 2010 was optimistic for Bull as it generated increased earnings for the first quarter.  Bull opened the year with a 9.4 percent jump in revenue, 24.8 percent increase in its order intake and a 12.4 percent rise in revenue of its Hardware and Systems Solutions unit.  The company's recent acquisition of Amesys helped Bull in terms of increased in overall earnings and operations, gaining 13.5 percent in growth.  Also in May 2010, Bull proudly confirmed its new appointee, Philippe Vannier, as the company's new chairman and chief executive officer. 

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rue Jean Jaure BP 68
Les Clayes-sous-Bois 78340
Phone: +33 01 3080 7000
Fax: +33 01 3080 7373


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: BULL
  • Stock Exchange: Euronext Paris
  • Chairman & CEO: Philippe Vannier
  • 2009 Employees: 7,707

Key Financials

  • 2009 Income: $1 million
  • 2009 Revenue: $1,110 million

Vault Company ID: 6194

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