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Strangled by 5 billion euros of debt, Atos changes CEO

Strangled by 5 billion euros of debt, Atos changes CEO

The situation is worrying six months before the Olympic Games. Atos, the technological partner of the International Olympic Committee and, as such, IT service provider for Paris 2024, must quickly find an agreement with its banks if it does not want its 5 billion euros of debt (2.3 billion euros ‘euros). ‘net euros, after taking into account cash flow) leads it to bankruptcy. About half of this 5 billion must be repaid in 2025. Atos does not have this sum. It must therefore renegotiate this debt with its twenty-two banks.

Started several months ago, the negotiations are slipping. To get help, Jean-Pierre Mustier, the president of Atos, therefore contacted Hélène Bourbouloux, the judicial administrator who worked on all the hot financial files, such as Casino and Orpea, revealed Le Figaro, Sunday January 14. According to our information, Atos has considered opening an ad hoc mandate, a preventive procedure intended for companies which are not in cessation of payments. In a press release published Monday January 15, the group assured “that he has not filed a request for the appointment of an ad hoc representative or the opening of a conciliation procedure”, which does not prevent him from doing so in the coming hours.

A sign of urgency: Atos announced on Monday the hasty departure of its general director, Yves Bernaert, in office for only four months and whose profile did not correspond to the situation of the company. He is replaced by its financial director, Paul Saleh, which clearly confirms the group’s desire to concentrate on discussions with its banks. A meeting is planned for this week.

Downgraded rating

We have to go quickly. At the end of November 2023, the S&P rating agency lowered its rating (from “BB” to “BB −”), threatening to go a notch lower in the coming weeks. His new opinion is expected at the end of January. A further downgrade would send Atos into the “highly speculative” category, which could cause the loss of several hundred million euros in turnover. Some clients benefit from clauses which allow their contract to be transferred to another subcontractor if the official supplier is too poorly rated. On Monday, as rumors began to circulate about the deterioration of its results, Atos assured that “its business lines will achieve their 2023 financial objectives for the year in terms of turnover and operating margin”. But what will 2024 look like?

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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