Why Bruno Le Maire wants the State to buy part of the activities of the company Atos

Why Bruno Le Maire wants the State to buy part of the activities of the company Atos

L’entreprise, en grande difficulté, gère des enjeux stratégiques majeurs pour la France. MAXPPP – Vincent Isore

The Minister of the Economy announced that he had submitted a letter of intent this weekend on behalf of the State. The goal: to prevent strategic activities for France from depending on foreign interests.

The French State has sent a letter of intent to the Atos group to acquire the activities it considers strategic, Bruno Le Maire declared on Sunday. "I submitted a letter of intent this weekend with a view to acquiring all of the sovereign activities of Atos", he said on the LCI channel, specifying that it is the State participation agency which will carry out this operation. The French Minister of Economy and Finance added that the State wanted other industrial groups to join its offer. "We will see which other shareholders could participate. I mean only French shareholders who work in strategic areas, defense for example or aeronautics", he noted. "There are other models like that of Naval Group, of TechicAtome where there is the State plus a round table with other sovereign actors French", he continued, emphasizing that "the objective is that the strategic activities of Atos remain under the exclusive control of France".

"Sensitive technologies"

Rumors have circulated in the French press that defense groups like Thales and Dassault Aviation could participate in a plan to safeguard Atos' assets, which include supercomputers and some of its activities most sensitive cybersecurity issues. "It’it’s the role of the State to defend the strategic interests of Atos and to avoid technologies which are sensitive, decisive in matters supercomputers or in matters of defense could at any time depend on foreign interests", insisted Bruno Le Maire.

Army communications, supercomputers, AI…

Atos is an IT consulting group that secures communications for the French army and secret services. It also manufactures servers for supercomputers capable of processing large quantities of data for research or to develop the emerging artificial intelligence (AI) industry. In major financial and stock market difficulties (the share has lost around 70% of its value since the start of the year), Atos warned on Thursday that it needed additional liquidity, which would lead it to revise its refinancing plan presented only two weeks ago. At the beginning of April, the group unveiled a long-awaited refinancing plan which was then based on the search for 1.2 billion euros in new money and the conversion of half of the debt into shares. But the deterioration in activity in the first quarter forced the group to review its activity plan for 2024-2027.

Rescue operations in vain for the moment

Atos, which holds assets considered strategic by the French government, hoped to begin a recovery with the sale of its BDS (Big Data   & Security) business to Airbus and that of its Tech Foundations branch, which brings together its IT consulting activities, with Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky. Both operations, however, failed. The group has extended to May 3 the deadline for refinancing proposals, one of which should come from the company Onepoint, the largest shareholder of Atos with 11.4% of the capital. Atos is also discussing with its banks to restructure its debt and still wants to reach an agreement with financial creditors by July. At the end of March, Atos' debt reached 3.9 billion euros compared to 2.3 billion at the end of December while cash flow fell by 1.4 billion in three months. ;nbsp;billion euros.

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