AT&T reportedly commenced a process to solicit bids for its cybersecurity business ahead of a possible sale, part of an ongoing strategy to pay down debt.

Sources told Reuters AT&T had begun working with bank Barclays to explore potential bids for the unit, which it established in 2018 after buying cybersecurity company AlienVault for $600 million.

There was no indication of a current valuation for the business.

AT&T acquired AlienVault to help form its own cybersecurity arm, targeting business customers with tools which can detect and mitigate threats, along with a data-sharing cloud platform.

In 2021, the operator secured a major two-year contract worth $231 million to provide the US treasury with its portfolio of cybersecurity services.

However, AT&T’s cybersecurity business has been in a state of decline as start-ups offering cheaper, similar alternatives started to emerge, Reuters noted.

A sale would help with AT&T’s long-term aim to reduce its debt from $132.2 billion at end-2022 to roughly $100 billion by 2025.

It shaved $24 billion off the figure in 2022.

Net debt rocketed to $180.4 billion after AT&T completed an $85 billion deal to acquire media giant Time Warner in 2018.

The potential sale of its cybersecurity arm would add to asset sales by the US operator over the past two years including offloading a 30 per cent stake in its video unit DirecTV to private equity TPG Capital for $1.8 billion and a $43 billion deal to combine its WarnerMedia unit with pay-TV company Discovery.