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May 7, 2024

Atos courts competing refinancing bids from Daniel Křetínský’s EPEI and David Layani’s Onepoint

Having previously spurned Atos, billionaire Daniel Křetínský has returned with a new offer for the embattled French IT giant.

By Greg Noone

Atos has confirmed its receipt of four competing proposals to strengthen its finances. The groups pitching the company include Bain Capital, Onepoint and partner Butler Industries, a coalition of banks and bondholders, and a partnership between Attestor and EP Equity Investment (EPEI.) Bain’s proposal was immediately rejected by Atos. EPEI’s pitch, meanwhile, is still in contention. Controlled by Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský, the investment organisation was previously in discussions to buy Atos’ Tech Foundations unit, only for those talks to collapse

“I would like to thank each of the submitting parties for their refinancing proposals received as part of our current conciliation process,” said the IT firm’s chairman, Jean-Pierre Mustier. “I am pleased to note that the key representatives of our bondholders and of our banking group are working together constructively to find a refinancing solution for Atos.”

A photo of the Atos logo on a brick wall, used to illustrate a story about an Atos debt refinancing attempt.
Recent months have seen the finances of French IT giant Atos hit a brick wall, amid poor revenues, state intervention and an inability on the part of the company to hive off key assets. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Atos receives four refinancing bids, considers three

The bids were received as part of an arbitration process known as a “mandat at hoc” in French law, wherein an independent conciliator is appointed to supervise negotiations between an indebted company and its creditors. Atos triggered this process in February following the collapse of refinancing talks with one of its main lenders, Crédit Agricole. The French bank had temporarily soured on supporting the IT company, after the latter’s failed pivot to cloud and seeming inability to sell key assets to bring down its massive debt burden. 

Three proposals to refinance Atos remain in contention. Though welcomed by the IT firm’s chairman, the pitch from the firm’s creditors remains incomplete, with the group stating that it would welcome an anchor investor. The last two – one from EPEI and another from Onepoint – are complete but different in scope. The former proposes injecting €600m into the French IT company immediately, €1.3bn in longer-term financing, and reducing its debt burden by €4bn through the successful sale of its assets. In return, EPEI and its partner Attestor would receive 99% of Atos. 

Layani proposal says will keep firm French

Křetínský’s EPEI faces off against Butler Industries and OnePoint, a French tech firm led by David Layani, who was appointed to Atos’ board of directors in February. The latter proposes €350m in immediate funding, a longer-term capital infusion of €500m, and debt erasure of €3.2bn by converting existing corporate assets into equity, non-repayments and negotiating extended repayment dates. In exchange, Layani and Butler Industries would receive a 35% stake in Atos and a promise to keep the firm headquartered in France. 

Last month, Atos said that it requires over €1.1bn to run the business until 2025, in addition to a reduction in its debt burden of €3.2bn, an extension to its debt repayment schedule, a €300m revolving credit facility and a similar sum in bank guarantee lines. In its latest market update, the company confirmed that it had successfully agreed to a new €100m in revolving credit and term loan facilities, to be provided by bondholders, and a new €50m loan from the French state. “Discussions with the banks regarding the implementation of a €300 million factoring facility,” said Atos, are “progressing.”

Read more: The fall of Atos: What went wrong? And what happens next?

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