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IT company Atos is almost perpetually in the news, whether it wants to be or not. The intended acquisition of the important Big Data & Cybersecurity (BDS) division may finally become a reality in the coming months. In this Techzine liveblog, read about the latest developments regarding Atos.

May 22 – Atos still has a full year to get the 2023 financial statements approved. The extension of the deadline was given by the President of the Commercial Court of Pontoise, France. It was reasoned Atos can use some extra time to end the ongoing discussions regarding the financial restructurings.

20 May – The European Central Bank is one of the largest bondholders, with about 20 percent of bonds, says French media company La Lettre. Thus, the central bank would have €500 million worth of loans outstanding with Atos. According to La Lettre, these bonds were issued from 2014 to 2017. The ECB stepped in with the bonds at the time under Mario Draghi’s time, who had a larger plan to accelerate eurozone growth.

What exactly happens to the ECB’s bonds is unclear. Indeed, restructuring plans are currently being drawn up and assessed, with some €4.8 billion of debt at the centre of these plans. The ECB did not comment to the story.

16 May – Econocom has also become part of the Onepoint consortium to rescue Atos. At the helm of Onepoint is David Layani, who wants to become CEO of the French IT service provider. Investment company Butler Industries is also part of the consortium. It is one of three contenders to make a crucial financial injection into Atos.

Econocom, a B2B service provider based in France, reiterates the three goals the consortium has in mind. It wants to keep Atos whole, achieve growth and restructure Atos’ debt.

May 6 – The May 3rd deadline for financial proposals towards Atos has passed. Of these, four came in: these are from OnePoint (already the largest Atos shareholder and in partnership with Butler Industries), Bain Capital, Daniel Kretinsky’s EPEI and investment company Attestor.

Bloomberg has elaborated on the proposals. A group of Atos bondholders is proposing to lend €1.2 billion and convert €1.8 billion of debt into shares. The group hopes to avoid a break-up of Atos and wants to keep its headquarters in Paris. Meanwhile, Kretinsky and Attestor want to inject 600 million euros in new equity and facilitate 1.3 billion euros in working capital. OnePoint and Butler Industries want to inject 350 million euros in exchange for 35 percent of shares. If Atos agrees to the latter, OnePoint’s David Layani will become CEO.

Atos has declined Bain Capital’s financial proposal, suggesting it wasn’t high enough. Talks with the French state to acquire strategically relevant parts are still ongoing.

We can expect another announcement on a deal on 31 May, with July as the final deadline. An interim deal for €100 million is already in place.

May 4 – A deal has been offered to save Atos. Creditors and banks that would have collected the company’s astronomical debt will inject 1.2 billion euros. Part of the debt is set to be waived, French financial newspaper La Tribune reports. The amount Atos has asked for has shifted several times. After requiring first 600 million and then 1.1 billion euros, it slid to 1.7 billion euros to stay alive until the end of 2025. It therefore remains to be seen whether this financial injection will be enough.

May 3 – American investment firm Bain Capital is also interested in parts of Atos. French financial news agency Les Echos reports that Bain is expected to announce this today. The deadline to come up with investment plans for Atos is the evening of Friday, May 3.

Bain Capital’s portfolio also includes French IT provider Inetum. However, this private equity’s investments span a variety of sectors, from healthcare and food to HR consulting and turbine manufacturing.

May 1 – Thales may want to take over “strategic” parts of Atos, says CFO Pascal Bouchiat. But: “We are not interested in BDS,” he states. Nevertheless, the BDS division does contain components that Thales would like to acquire. These parts focus on defense and security might well fall under Thales. If those are for sale, “we would not object to looking at it,” Bouchiat said.

After disappearing from the spotlight for a while, Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky also seems interested in Atos again. In February, he also bought ailing French retailer Casino.

One can’t fault anyone for getting a déjà vu regarding Thales’ interest in Atos. Thales has had occasional interest in that company’s BDS division for years. In 2022, for example, it was looking to acquire this division for 2.7 billion euros. Meanwhile, the market value of the entire Atos company has collapsed by around 90 percent in two years. Currently, it is worth just over 200 million euros.

Atos set up its own BDS division in 2014 after buying up compatriot Bull. In addition to Thales, Orange, Capgemini and Airbus, among others, have repeatedly expressed interest in various Atos units.

April 29 – The French government may want to buy up parts of Atos. Together with a consortium including Thales, it would target three parts of the BDS division. These are Advanced Computing, Critical Systems and Cyber Products. With this, France is targeting the strategically important components of Atos, which is responsible for the servers that house the data of the French military and security services, among other things. A letter of intent has been signed, estimating the value of the components at between 700 million and 1 billion euros.

April 25 – Atos needs an even more substantial debt restructuring to make it through 2025 than previously stated: 1.7 billion euros. External investors have until May 3 to come up with refinancing proposals. CEO Paul Saleh reiterated that he wants to settle a debt agreement in July.

When you boil it all down, the total debt has to be halved. This is far from the first time Atos has reached this conclusion, but after the failure of multiple negotiations with Airbus and businessman Daniel Kretinsky, among others, the need is higher than ever.

April 9 – Atos has come to the conclusion that it requires not 600 million euros, but 1.2 billion euros to make it through 2025. A debt restructuring is necessary because it cannot conceivably raise 3.65 billion euros to creditors this year as planned. That is the vast majority of the total debt, which amounts to 4.7 billion euros.

April 8 – French investment company Butler Industries wants to contribute to a rescue of Atos. It joins a consortium of major shareholder Onepoint. The ambitions don’t lie: the group wants Atos to grow into “the leading European platform for cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.” As a European player, it would be perfectly positioned to emerge as a leading sovereign cloud operator, the consortium members think.

March 26 – Annual results show Atos is deep in the red. It turned a 3.44 billion euro loss in 2023, sharply higher than the 1.01 billion euro loss in 2022. New agreements should be reached with creditors in July, CEO Paul Saleh said.

March 19 – The Big Data & Cybersecurity (BDS) division will not be sold to Airbus after all. The aircraft maker has abandoned a deal that would have raised 1.5 to 1.8 billion euros. The French state had strongly encouraged the proposed acquisition, but negotiations have reached a dead end.

While Airbus investors show their relief financially, Atos’ share price is in free fall. Immediately after the news, the share price fell 21 percent.

February 29 – Atos has added three new members to its Board of Directors. The move represents the first step since calling off a deal with investment company EPEI, led by Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky. David Layani and Helen Lee Bouygues, both employed at Onepoint, join. Onepoint owns 11.4 percent of Atos, making it the largest shareholder.

February 28 – Negotiations between Atos and EPEI have broken down. Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky, who heads EPEI, wanted to buy the Tech Foundations part of Atos. The debt of this part alone amounts to 1.9 billion euros, which EPEI seemed to want to take over.

Previous articles on Atos in 2024:
February 6 – French state wants to retain Atos at all costs
February 5 – Atos tries to refinance outstanding debts
January 3 – Atos can possibly sell cybersecurity division to Airbus