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Atos CEO to quit as he loses power struggle

Atos said on Tuesday that chief executive Rodolphe Belmer, who started his job only in January, will quit the struggling French IT company, following weeks of reports of deep divisions with the board over strategy.

The news came just an hour before a much anticipated capital market day that investors hoped could restore confidence after a series of setbacks that has wiped out two-thirds of Atos’s market value over the past 12 months.

Belmer, the former boss of satellite company Eutelsat will leave Atos on Sept. 30. Atos said it had appointed two deputy CEOs, Nourdine Bihmane and Philippe Oliva.

The company said it was looking at splitting into two publicly listed entities, which Bihmane and Oliva would lead.

The split would be aimed at “unlocking value” as part of a broader plan that would cost an estimated 1.6 billion euros in 2022-2023, Atos said.

Atos will sell non-strategic assets worth about 700 million euros, Belmer said on Tuesday in a call with reporters.

Belmer, also previously the boss of Vivendi-owned pay-TV station Canal+, had promised a new start for Atos after accounting errors and a failed attempt to acquire a U.S. group prompted a loss in investor confidence.

According to media reports, the main point of discord between Belmer and his board, chaired by Bertrand Meunier, concerned the future of the company’s crown-jewel cybersecurity unit. Belmer reportedly considered selling it to raise much-needed cash.

The weakness of Atos’s shares have made it vulnerable to merger-and-acquisition rumours and speculation. On Monday, the shares fell more than 10%, following a media report about its future strategy. Reuters

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