Atos delays sign-off on 2023 finances as it weighs restructure offers

Energy billionaire Daniel Křetínský reportedly looking at ways to sway creditors

Ailing IT giant Atos has delayed approval of its financial statements for 2023 until the end of this year as it continues efforts to restructure, which have seen renewed interest from billionaire suitor Daniel Křetínský.

The French IT integrator announced in a market update that it has obtained approval from the president of the Pontoise Commercial Court to extend to December 31 the deadline for a shareholder Annual General Meeting to approve its 2023 financial statements.

The reason for this is to provide a stable framework in which the company can continue discussions with stakeholders aimed at reaching a financial restructuring agreement by the end of July, efforts that the company has been making since February.

This includes the extension of €450 million ($487 million) interim financing agreed in-principle, Atos said last month, "and an incremental interim financing of €350 million from July 2024 to final implementation of the financial restructuring agreement."

Atos said this week that its shareholders will be consulted on the financial restructuring plan in a separate framework from the Annual General Meeting. Beyond that, the company did not respond to our request for an official update on its restructuring efforts.

Earlier, the IT services outfit said it would need €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) to fund the business over the 2024-25 period, and it had received a non-binding letter of intent from the French state to acquire certain assets from its Big Data & Security (BDS) business, including the Advanced Computing, Mission-Critical Systems, and Cybersecurity Products.

Since then, Atos is said to have received four offers, including one from Bain Capital that the company's board rejected, while another came from some of the company's existing creditors, who would like to see an anchor investor take a substantial stake as well.

According to Reuters, this comes down to French businessman David Layani, who is believed to be the company’s largest shareholder, and Daniel Křetínský and his EP Equity Investment (EPEI) group.

Energy billionaire Křetínský had previously been in negotiations to take control of the Tech Foundations part of Atos, comprised of its datacenter and hosting, digital workplace and business process outsourcing operations, but the talks collapsed in February.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Atos bondholders had rejected Křetínský's buyout offer over fears that he would break up the company.

Reuters had earlier revealed that the EPEI group, joined by UK investment fund Attestor, did indeed plan to reduce the company's debt by €4 billion ($4.3 billion) by compensating creditors with some of the proceeds from selling off parts of Atos, in addition to bringing in €600 million ($650 million) in new investment. In exchange, EPEI would get nearly full ownership of Atos.

Křetínský is now said to be considering changes to his bid to sway creditors, such as allowing them to own shares in the Tech Foundations part of the business.

Layani and his IT services outfit Onepoint is said to be offering the creditors a smaller debt reduction and cash injection, but to retain all of the assets of Atos beyond those the French government has made an offer for. The company offered to buy the Digital, Big Data and Security (BDS) divisions of Atos in 2022, but that bid was rejected.

These latest moves come after a tumultuous couple of years for Atos, during which the company decided to split itself in two (Tech Foundations and BDS) and sell off the former to EPEI and a stake in the latter to Airbus, yet both deals fell through, while debts continued to grow.

The company is now aiming to make a decision on its financial restructuring plans by May 31, before finalizing the agreement by the end of July. ®

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