At Atos, a shareholder pushes to dismiss the president

Tension is mounting at Atos as its general meeting on June 28 approaches. At this meeting, the asset management company Sycomore AM, a minority shareholder in the IT group, plans to file four dissenting resolutions. One of them requests the dismissal of the chairman of the board of directors Bertrand Meunier, in this position since November 2019 and judged as the first person responsible for the current difficulties of the company.

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The investor also wants the departure of two other directors, Aminata Niane and Vernon Sankey, as well as the reinstatement of a position of lead director, abolished in December 2020, and whose mission is to ensure dialogue with shareholders.

“Since the end of 2019, the group’s balance sheet has been disastrous”writes Cyril Charlot, Deputy CEO of Sycomore, in a letter addressed to Bertrand Meunier and made public on 1er June. “From an accounting point of view, the company has suffered four billion euros in losses in two years and its equity has shrunk by half”begins the investor, before shelling out a series of criticisms against a strategy carried out “contrary to that announced to investors”, “far too aggressive financial communication” and the “lack of professionalism and discernment” of the group’s appointments committee, which appointed a general manager, Rodolphe Belmer, who left in June 2022, nine months after his arrival. Result : “From a stock market point of view, the results are dramatic: – 81% for Atos since the end of 2019 against + 50% for Capgemini”concludes the investor.

Relevant candidates

For Sycomore, only an overhaul of the Atos board of directors will restore a strategy “again clearly defined” and an “profitability in the sector average”. The shareholder had found two candidates able, according to him, to strengthen the board. These two people, whose names the shareholder refuses to give, were interviewed by the appointments committee, chaired by Bertrand Meunier, and in which the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, director of Atos until the meeting still participates. General of June 28. But these two profiles were not retained by the company, which convinced Sycomore to give decision-making power to the company’s shareholders during the general meeting.

“These two candidates withdrew on their own”, retorts a close friend of Atos, without wanting to disclose their identity. One of them was in potential conflict of interest. According to our information, it was Emilie Sidiqian, the general manager in France of the American software group Salesforce. The second candidate was Christopher Guérin, managing director of the French cable company Nexans.

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