end of discussions with Daniel Kretinsky

There weren’t many people left who still believed in an agreement. The thread is officially broken. Atos announced on Wednesday February 28 the end of exclusive negotiations with Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky to sell him its outsourcing division Tech Foundations. “The two parties have not reached a satisfactory mutual agreement”explains the IT group, adding that the decision was taken from a ” agreement “ and will not result in the payment of compensation.

Atos entered into discussions with EP Equity Investment (EPEI), Daniel Kretinsky’s investment fund, on 1er August 2023. Objective: sell Tech Foundations, an activity considered to be in decline, to focus on the promising development of the cybersecurity and consulting division, Eviden. But nothing happened as planned: Atos shareholders were quickly upset by the financial conditions of the operation negotiated with EPEI, considered too favorable, while they would have been called, at the same time, to postpone the hand in hand, through a capital increase, to give Eviden more financial resources; the Atos stock price has collapsed (- 75% since 1er august) ; and the governance of the group was shattered. In less than seven months, Atos has changed its president once and its CEO three times.

The arrival as president, on October 16, of Jean-Pierre Mustier, replacing Bertrand Meunier, contributed to making the discussions a little more tense, with the former general director of the Italian bank Unicredit trying to rebalance the conditions of the agreement for the benefit of Atos. But, tough in business, Daniel Kretinsky was not ready to give up too much ground. The line quickly became blurred. In the Czech billionaire’s camp, we wondered if the management of Atos really wanted to find an agreement: right in the middle of the discussions, Jean-Pierre Mustier was absent for several days in January for a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean sailing. Subsequently, despite a few attempts to revive it, the dialogue never really resumed, but neither party wanted to take responsibility for the failure.

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The formalization of the breakup has the merit of clarifying the situation, but it leaves Atos in a financial situation that is still worrying for its 100,000 employees and its customers. While the IT group requested, on February 5, that a representative be appointed to help it renegotiate its debt with its banks, it announced on Wednesday February 28 the postponement of the publication of its annual results, initially expected Thursday February 29, at the request of its auditors.

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