Crunch time for Atos as French tech giant sets deadline for rescue package

Atos logo pictured at the French IT company's headquarters in Bezons, near Paris.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

French IT company Atos has set itself a deadline of Wednesday 5 June to decide between two bids that propose to restructure the heavily indebted multinational.

A consortium led by Czech businessman and Royal Mail owner, Daniel Křetínský, is behind one of the restructuring proposals, while the other was put forward by Atos’ anchor investor David Layani.

Layani’s bid is led by his IT firm, Onepoint, with assistance from Butler Industries and Econocom Group SE, whereas the Křetínský offer is fronted by his investment firm EPEI in consortium with with Attestor Limited, an investor who specializes in turnaround opportunities.

Atos said both proposals are “generally consistent” with the financial parameters it had set for the restructuring deals, including reducing the company’s $5.21 billion debt and securing near and mid-term financing moving forward.

Atos said it was seeking an additional €350 million in interim financing – in addition to the €450 million that was agreed in April – to cover any costs incurred between July 2024 and the end of the restructuring process.

While promising to cut the company’s debt burden significantly, both deals would also dilute its current shareholders to virtually zero.

Atos’ statement said it would be publishing details of the two revised offers on its website in due course, and that it was currently working with creditors to choose between them.

The firm added that it’s currently reviewing offers for its Worldgrid energy business, which provides IT solutions for power generation organizations.

Atos has gone from hero to zero

Once the darling of the French tech sector, Atos has undergone a stark decline after its $10 billion effort to acquire American IT firm DCX Technology fell through in 2021. 

Atos had something of a year to forget in 2021, with the company losing over $1 billion in market value after it emerged auditors uncovered a series of accounting errors at two of its US assets.

Although the company claimed the accounting discrepancies were linked to revenue recognition issues, it couldn’t prevent a 10% hit to its stock price once the results of the audit were published.

Since then, the company has gone through a veritable chief executive merry-go-round, with five CEOs coming and going in the space of two and a half years.

In 2023, Atos said it had entered into negotiations to sell its legacy infrastructure including its data center and hosting services to Křetínský’s EPEI, but on 28 February 2024 it announced the deal had fallen through.

A €1-2 billion deal to sell its big data and security (BDS) unit to french aerospace giant Airbus also collapsed in March this year.

In the proposal fronted by Layani’s Onepoint, already a major Atos shareholder, it said the consortium was ready to lead a rescue plan that would shore up the firm’s stability and protect the integrity of all of its assets.

Atos plays an important role in much of the infrastructure underpinning France’s military and nuclear industries, as well as being responsible for cyber security at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Solomon Klappholz
Staff Writer

Solomon Klappholz is a Staff Writer at ITPro. He has experience writing about the technologies that facilitate industrial manufacturing which led to him developing a particular interest in IT regulation, industrial infrastructure applications, and machine learning.