Atos, David Layani’s winning bet


David Layani, in Paris, in November 2017. ROMAIN BEURRIER/REA

David Layani won his bet: to take control of Atos, a group twenty times bigger than his own. After long hesitation, the board of directors of the IT company, suffocated by 5 billion euros of debt, accepted, Monday June 10 in the evening, the takeover offer from the founder of Onepoint and a part of the creditors, preferring it to that defended by the Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky.

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“A solution has emerged, better oriented towards the interests of the company’s stakeholders, in particular its employees and its customers”explains Jean-Pierre Mustier, chairman of the board of directors of Atos, in a press release published on Tuesday June 11 in the morning.

This proposition “also has the support of a large number of Atos’ financial creditors and thus ensures with greater certainty the conclusion of a definitive financial restructuring agreement” by the end of July, adds the group. To be validated by the commercial court, the plan must obtain a two-thirds majority of the general meeting of creditors.

Relaunch the activity

The successful offer plans to erase 2.9 billion euros of existing debt to convert it into equity, which will make the creditors the main shareholders of Atos, with around 79% of the capital. Onepoint and its allies Butler and Econocom will inject 175 million euros, which will give them 21% of the shares. The creditors will complete with 75 million. Current shareholders will lose everything: their participation will be reduced to less than 0.1% of the capital. Finally, 1.5 billion euros of new funds will be released in the form of debt, including 300 million euros in bank guarantees, to allow the IT group to relaunch its activity, which has been significantly deteriorated in recent months by its financial difficulties. .

To these sums, will be added in the coming months the money that Atos will recover from the sale to the State of its most sensitive activities, in the military and energy. The State Holdings Agency must submit, in the coming days, a formal purchase offer for critical systems, supercomputers and cybersecurity products, for an estimated value of between 700 million and 1 billion euros. Worldgrid could, for its part, be bought by EDF or a company close to the electricity producer, announced the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, on May 28.

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Supported from the start by some of Atos’ creditors, who appreciated his industrial project and the fact that it required less financial effort from them, David Layani almost lost the game in the final hours. Daniel Kretinsky did everything to turn the tide of the game. The improvement, on three occasions, of his offer tipped several banks to his camp, in the wake of BNP Paribas, which weighed with all its weight in favor of the Czech businessman.

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