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French Investor Layani Wins Bid for Last-Minute Atos Restructuring

  • Struggling firm selects Layani's bid over Kretinsky's
  • Investor wants to keep Atos French-controlled, safeguard jobs
  • Decision likely ends Kretinsky's attempts to acquire the firm
  • Atos shares down more than 80% so far in 2024

PARIS, June 11 (Reuters) - French tech group Atos has picked an offer to restructure its debt led by anchor investor David Layani, preferring it to a rival proposal from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, the company said on Tuesday.

The last-minute restructuring decision, reached a week later than initially planned, will be implemented by July. It marks the end of a months-long battle for control of the company by Layani and his firm Onepoint, Atos' biggest shareholder with 11%.

Atos said Layani's offer was supported by a "large number" of the company's financial creditors, providing greater confidence that a definitive financial restructuring agreement can be reached.

Layani's pitch, which will massively dilute existing shareholders, centres on keeping Atos under French control and preserving jobs and assets despite the urgent need to restructure the group's 4.8 billion-euro debt.

Together with partner investment company Butler Industries and Econocom, Layani is offering 250 million euros ($269.2 million) of new equity and 1.5 billion euros of new debt, including 300 million in bank guarantees. They also intend to convert 2.9 billion euros worth of debt into equity.

"A solution has emerged, which aligns with the interest of the company's stakeholders, particularly our employees and clients," said Atos Chairman Jean-Pierre Mustier.

Kretinsky has twice tried to gain control of Atos in recent months as part of an extended shopping spree in France which has seen him take ownership of supermarket chain Casino, as well as large stakes in the Fnac Darty retailer and newspaper Le Monde among other investments.

Atos shares have fallen about 84% so far in 2024, and at Monday's closing price of 1.14 euros, were more than 99% off their all-time high of 143.65 euros reached on March 10, 2000.

($1 = 0.9288 euros)

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Additional reporting by Piotr Lipinski; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Kirsten Donovan

Source: Reuters

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