Atos defers its own D-Day to ponder financial rescue decision

Restructure saga kicked into next week, investors unamused

Crisis-ridden tech giant Atos has further delayed a decision on its restructuring, putting back until next week the choice of a rescue package to reduce the company's debt and get its finances back in shape.

The French IT integrator and consultant had given itself a deadline of June 5 to pick between rival restructuring proposals designed to get the company back on its feet, but uncertainty for customers continues as it seems Atos needs more time to make up its mind.

As detailed earlier this week, the choice comes down to financial restructuring proposals offered by two groups: a consortium comprised of IT services outfit Onepoint, Butler Industries and Econocom, plus some of Atos' creditors; and Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský and his EP Equity Investment group (EPEI) in union with UK investment fund Attestor.

In an update this morning (June 6), Atos disclosed it is in discussion with both parties that submitted revised restructuring proposals.

The Conciliator overseeing the negotiations also requested more time to maximize support from the company's creditors for their preferred proposal, Atos said, and so the Board of Directors has extended the deadline for a decision to the beginning of next week.

TechMarketView chief analyst Georgina O'Toole voiced the frustration many Atos investors and customers may be feeling.

"I must admit that my reaction to today's Atos Group's no-news news was, 'you have to be kidding me,'" she wrote. "Like many others, I had been waiting on tenterhooks to learn which of its financial restructuring proposals had come out on top. On the 80th anniversary of D-Day, today – June 6 – was going to be Atos's own D-Day."

O'Toole noted that during the long-running process, Atos has found it difficult to stick to its own deadlines. It had previously said it would make a final decision by the end of May, for example.

"Extending the deadline again brings more uncertainty for shareholders, clients, partners, and employees, all of whom have been subject to a roller coaster of a ride over recent months," she commented.

Over the past several years, Atos's share price has fallen dramatically while the company has found itself burdened with debt as it failed to adapt to a changing IT landscape. Various bids to claw back cash by selling off parts of the company have also fallen through, leading to the current crisis.

Atos confirmed that its aim of reaching a final financial restructuring agreement by July remains unchanged. ®

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