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Former Orange CEO Stephane Richard declines involvement in Atos restructuring

Stephane Richard, former chief executive of telecoms company Orange ORAN.PA and current partner at Perella Weinberg, said on Wednesday he was not interested in getting involved in the restructuring of indebted tech group Atos ATOS.PA.

Richard was responding to an article published in Le Figaro newspaper, which linked him to French businessman David Layani’s interest in Atos.

Last month, the French government signed a letter of intent to acquire Atos assets deemed to have strategic importance including Atos’ Advanced Computing, Mission-Critical Systems and Cyber Products.

Why it’s important
Atos is in the middle of a restructuring and planned asset sale programme.

The French government considers Atos as having assets that are of strategic importance to France.

Atos secures communications for the French military and secret services and manufactures servers to make supercomputers capable of processing vast amounts of data for research or to develop the nascent artificial intelligence industry.

Atos also runs data for the Paris Olympic Games.

Key quote
“I confirm having been approached in the framework of preliminary, non-binding talks on the future governance of Atos in a consortium led by Mr Layani. I have decided, given my current responsibilities, not to take this further,” Richard said in a statement.

What’s next
Atos’ assets have attracted the attention of Layani and Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

French company Thales TCFP.PA has also said it could be tempted by Atos’ defence assets.

By the numbers
Once a flagship technology company included in the French bluechip CAC-40 share index, Atos grew quickly through acquisitions but later made strategic mistakes against a backdrop of unstable governance

Atos’ shares have slumped around 70% so far in 2024. It has an equity market capitalisation of around 220 million euros and had net debt of 3.9 billion euros as of March 31.

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