Atos Says It Has Decided to Proceed With Onepoint’s Proposal

Atos Says It Has Decided to Proceed With Onepoint’s Proposal

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(Bloomberg) — Atos SE chose a group led by Onepoint, its top shareholder, to take over the heavily indebted French IT company and will work with creditors to secure the refinancing offer. 

The board chose Onepoint’s proposal, which includes new equity and reduced debt, over a second bid from billionaire Daniel Kretinsky’s EP Equity Investment, Atos said in a statement Tuesday. The Onepoint-led bid was also backed by Butler Industries and Econocom Group SE.

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The Onepoint consortium offered €250 million ($272 million) of new money equity and said it aims to convert €2.9 billion of Atos’s debt into shares to save the company. Atos, loaded with close to €5 billion in debt, has been under a conciliation procedure since April with creditors and banks to try to avoid bankruptcy.

Atos and its creditors will work to reach a final deal to restructure the company by July. The refinancing proposal called “One Atos” was more optimistic than Kretinsky’s, who targeted a more radical debt cut and a darker outlook.

Founded by David Layani in 2002, Onepoint is a much smaller IT group than its target, with around €500 million of revenue last year compared with €10.7 billion for Atos. Onepoint became Atos’s top shareholder last year, following months of setbacks for the bigger firm, including failed M&A, a high CEO turnover and a dramatic plunge in its valuation. 

Atos was once one of France’s premier tech companies, setting its sights on taking market share from Accenture and Capgemini, before accounting scandals and huge debts left it on the verge of insolvency. Even though Atos has lost 90% of its value in the last year, it remains a key IT services provider in its home country, with strategic contracts linking it to the defense and nuclear industry, as well as the Olympic Games.

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The unraveling of Atos has been a new test for France’s restructuring regime, following the downfall of care-home operator Orpea and food retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon. It also forced the government to contribute €50 million in interim funding and make a separate offer for its most sensitive supercomputing unit. 

Atos is also reviewing offers for its smart energy business, Worldgrid. The unit, including systems used to control French nuclear plants, should remain under the control of the French state, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said last week, adding that public energy giant EDF could be a candidate.

—With assistance from Vlad Savov.

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