Is the French government nationalising Atos?

In mid-2022 Atos completed the sale of its entire stake in Worldline of ca. 7.0 million shares representing ca. 2.5% of Worldline’s share capital. As a result, Atos  raised net proceeds of ca. €220 million and was no longer a shareholder of Worldline.

      Is the French government nationalising Atos?

Since then, the path of the two separate entities has been a rocky road.

In February, Worldline forecast that revenue growth would slow this year as European consumers rein in spending, sending its shares down as much as 15% even as it pledged to cut costs and improve profitability – it also reported an €817 million loss for 2023.

For Atos, business has been even worse.

As it races to organise its debt restructuring, Atos has revealed a bleaker financial picture than it had given in early April. It doubled its short-term cash needs across both 2024 and 2025 to €1.1 billion from a previous €600 million estimate, taking its total funding needs to €1.7 billion, up from a previous estimate of €1.2 billion.

Now, the French government has proposed buying key assets of Atos, for up to €1 billion because Paris wants to keep them in national hands – according to an FT report.

The state wants to purchase three strategic parts of Atos: super calculators for quantum computing, which are used by the French army for the country’s nuclear weapons programme; secure communications tech also used by the military; and certain cyber security assets.

Amid concerns in Paris that foreign investors, including hedge funds, could gain control of Atos in an upcoming restructuring of its €4.8 billion gross debt, finance minister Bruno Le Maire said that the state had sent a non-binding letter of intent to the French company about purchasing the assets.

“There are sovereign assets in Atos that must stay within the exclusive control of France,” Le Maire told news channel LCI on Sunday. “We have signalled our interest in acquiring all the strategic assets of Atos.”

The French government has stayed out of much of the turmoil at Atos, as the company churned through several chief executives and made several strategic U-turns in the past three years.

But as Atos’s financial position worsened, the state in early April announced it would provide a €50 million short-term loan and create a “golden share” system for the company’s sensitive assets, which would allow ministers to block any acquisitions they did not approve of.

The French government’s proposal was not a forced nationalisation, the economic ministry official said.

Atos shares rose about 17% on the news.


The post Is the French government nationalising Atos? appeared first on Payments Cards & Mobile.