French banks ready to choose Daniel Kretinsky for the takeover of Atos

French banks ready to choose Daniel Kretinsky for the takeover of Atos
French banks ready to choose Daniel Kretinsky for the takeover of Atos

BNP Paribas has ruled out supporting David Layani’s offer, which it considers too financially fragile. Other French banks are joining its position to tip the game.

The takeover of Atos resembles the between-rounds of an election. The two candidates, David Layani and Daniel Kretinsky, are trying to rally voters. Creditors of the IT services group will be asked to vote in favor of one or the other in a week. They carry 4.9 billion euros of debt, distributed half by banks, half by investment funds holding bonds.

Everyone must position themselves and the banks are tipping in favor of Daniel Kretinsky. In any case the French banks, BNP Paribas in the lead. According to our information, the leading European bank believes that “David Layani’s offer carries too great an execution risk”, explains a Source close to the matter. According to several sources, it is in the process of bringing together French banks: Natixis, CIC, and soon Crédit Agricole.

A change of footing for the mutual bank which, just a few months ago, advised David Layani and his company, OnePoint. “It’s a market issue” adds one of its managers to justify this grouping of French banks. Only Société Générale remains silent for the moment. His position is being scrutinized while the president of Atos, Jean-Pierre Mustier, is a former manager of the bank.

Standoff between French and foreign banks

French banks hope to put all their weight behind foreign banks who are not ready to follow Daniel Kretinsky. The German Commerzbank is the most exposed bank with a loan of around 300 million, alongside the American JP Morgan and the Dutch ING. To put pressure on them, BNP Paribas has just left the steering committee which brings together all the Atos banks. It thus hopes to create a balance of power against foreign banks and to take with it the European Central Bank which is the largest creditor with 500 million euros in loans. “The ECB will side with the majority,” assures one protagonist.

French banks are concerned about David Layani’s lack of capital investment. His company OnePoint offers to contribute 250 million euros, its directors 50 million euros and its ally Walter Butler another 50 million euros. “OnePoint invests thanks to a loan from Carlyle and the managers will also invest by borrowing, explains a creditor. Then David Layani wants to become CEO of Atos to merge with OnePoint, which no one knows how much it is worth.” For the banks, its offer is not enough to save Atos. Is this a way to push him to improve his project like the bond funds did with Daniel Kretinsky?

BNP Paribas threatens to drop Atos if Layani wins

BNP Paribas is categorical and refuses to bet on David Layani. According to our information, she informed Atos management and the Ministry of the Economy that if OnePoint was chosen, she would not participate in the refinancing of the IT services group. When contacted, the bank did not wish to comment.

This is enormous pressure on the judicial administrator who must organize the vote of the creditors before they decide. Hélène Bourbouloux already received a letter last week from the bond funds which rejected Daniel Kretinsky’s first offer. Since then, the Czech billionaire has initiated discussions to improve his proposal, as revealed by BFM Business yesterday, in order to gain their support.

Except that, according to our information, the letter was not signed by the majority of bond creditors who account for 2.4 billion euros of Atos’ debt. And not by the European Central Bank either. There are above all three funds to arbitrate this match between Daniel Kretinsky and David Layani: the American fund DEShaw, the British Fidera and the French Boussard & Gavaudan. Between them, they represent less than a billion euros. When contacted, they did not wish to comment.

Matthieu Pechberty Journalist BFM Business

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