Atos mulls asset sales, moves to modify terms of Tech Foundations sale

By Diana Mandia

(Reuters) -Atos said on Tuesday it was considering further asset sales to address its capital raising plan and debt maturing in 2025, and was in talks to modify the terms of a deal to sell its Tech Foundations business to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

The IT service provider said it was considering accessing capital markets and the sale of additional assets to tackle the capital raising plan, a 1.5 billion euro term loan maturing in January 2025, and 750 million euros in bonds maturing May 2025.

It is also in advanced negotiations with Kretinsky’s EP Equity Investment (EPEI) vehicle to “modify and simplify” some terms of its proposed 2 billion euro ($2.11 billion) sale of Tech Foundations, the group said.

Shares in Atos, which has seen its market value slump in recent years and has undergone numerous governance changes, were down more than 6% by 1310 GMT.

AlphaValue analyst Helene Coumes attributed the drop to “the endless uncertainty on the deal on Tech Foundations, the financing issues and how the change of some terms of the agreement will be favourable for the minority shareholders”.

The Tech Foundations deal would also see Kretinsky take a 7.5% stake in the group’s cybersecurity unit Eviden, which is what would be left of Atos.

Earlier this month, digital consultancy firm Onepoint’s chief executive David Layani called for a review of Atos’ planned deal with Kretinsky, according to the Financial Times.

Onepoint, which holds almost 10% of Atos’ capital and voting rights, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for Atos said they had no comment beyond the press release issued this morning.

S&P Global Ratings on Monday downgraded Atos’ rating to ‘BB-‘ from ‘BB’ on increasing liquidity risk, adding that the rating remained on credit watch negative.

Contacted by Reuters, S&P reiterated the credit watch negative placement reflected the fact that it could lower its rating by multiple notches, if Atos fails to put in place a refinancing plan for the 2025 debt early next year.

According to the group, the impact of the rating downgrade on interest expense would be negligible.

(Reporting Diana Mandiá, Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Jan Harvey, Robert Birsel, Alexandra Hudson)