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French IT Firm Atos Seeks at Least €1 Billion in New Funds, Aims to Halve Debt

In Technology
April 09, 2024

(Bloomberg) — The embattled French IT company Atos SE is seeking more than €1 billion in new funds and wants to cut its current debt pile by at least half, according to a restructuring plan presented to creditors late Monday.

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Atos is aiming to convert about half of its debt into equity as part of the plan while extending the maturity of its remaining obligations, people with direct knowledge of the presentation said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Exactly who would provide the more than €1 billion in new funds and how remaining debt terms would be renegotiated weren’t immediately clear, they said.

Atos, once hailed as the rising star of France’s tech industry, is facing a wall of debt — and it’s running out of options for bringing it down. The firm has €3.65 billion ($3.95 billion) of debt due by the end of next year. Meanwhile, talks to sell parts of its business to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky’s EPEI and Airbus SE have failed. Shares have fallen by more than 97% in the past seven years, with a series of supply chain constraints, accounting errors, profit warnings and industry-wide headwinds wiping out nearly €12 billion in market value.

Atos declined to comment on Monday. The company had said it will issue a statement on the presentation before the market opens on Tuesday. Atos’s plans may change depending on whether the French government gets involved and whether third parties decide to inject new money into the company or buy parts of the business, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has taken a personal interest in the fate of Atos, which has close ties with the nation’s military and nuclear industry. Attal said last week that Atos’s strategic activities, which include providing cybersecurity for this summer’s Paris Olympics, must remain under French ownership. The government’s priority is to ensure Atos’s financial stability, he recently told lawmakers at the National Assembly.

Monday’s presentation was part of a formal restructuring process known as conciliation with the company’s debtors, under the supervision of a court-appointed mediator. Atos said last month it has sufficient liquidity until it reaches a debt deal and that it hoped to have a comprehensive agreement by July.

Other parties are trying to design alternative rescue plans. Atos’s largest shareholder Onepoint said on Sunday that Paris-based investment firm Butler Industries will join a consortium to help rescue Atos. The group is interested in “protecting and preserving all group assets,” according to a statement.

Kretinsky is also weighing a renewed takeover offer for parts of Atos, depending on the result of the restructuring and refinancing plan, Bloomberg reported in February.

(Updates with lost market value in third paragraph)

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