France's Atos rejects bid interest valued at $4.1 billion for Evidian arm

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Atos is pictured at the Eurosatory international defence and security exhibition in Villepinte, near Paris, France June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French technology consultancy company Atos, whose shares have slumped on scepticism over its restructuring plan, said on Thursday it had rejected expressions of interest in its Evidian unit from rival onepoint and UK private equity fund ICG.

Atos said onepoint and ICG had sent an unsolicited letter of intent related to the potential acquisition of the Evidian business for an indicative enterprise value of 4.2 billion euros ($4.1 billion).

"Following the thorough examination of this preliminary and non-binding mark of interest, and upon the recommendation of its ad hoc committee, the board of directors has convened and unanimously concluded that it is not in the interest of the company and its stakeholders," Atos said. "The board of directors has therefore decided not to proceed."

David Layani, the founder of onepoint, urged Atos to reconsider. He told reporters that a combination of one point with Atos would create a new French technology champion, and said onepoint's overtures to Atos were "friendly".

"We ask the board to take the time to reconsider its position so that we can work together to find the best solution for this merger," said Layani, adding that he saw a deal between the two as creating 20,000 jobs in Europe.

Former Atos CEO Rodolphe Belmer announced in June that he would leave Atos just as the group presented a plan to split into two groups, with the aim of spinning off and combining its most lucrative assets, including its cybersecurity division BDS.

Atos has since secured financing for the turnaround plan, but many investors have continued to unload the shares.

Atos shares closed up 10.6% on Thursday, but year-to-date the stock is down by around 77%.

($1 = 1.0219 euros)

(Additional reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Marc Angrand, Jean-Stephane Brosse and Leslie Adler)

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