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Atos Gets €700 Million Bid from France for Strategic Unit

(Bloomberg) -- The French government has offered to buy some of Atos SE’s operations in its big data and security unit for an enterprise value of €700 million ($751 million) as part of discussions to restructure the embattled IT company.

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The non-binding bid, part of talks previously disclosed in April, is for the company’s supercomputers, “mission-critical” systems and cybersecurity activities in the Atos unit known as BDS, the company said in a statement on Friday. No final deal has been reached and discussions are continuing.


“With other companies that can be partners, we’ve taken responsibility to buy Atos’s strategic activities and guarantee that these strategic activities remain under the full or partial control of the State,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on France Info radio on Friday.

Atos shares jumped 18% to 90 cents in Paris at 9:41 a.m. after earlier rising as much as 23%.

The government has stepped in as part of rescue negotiations to try and keep the most sensitive parts of the Paris-based company under French control. Even though Atos has lost 90% of its value in the last year, it remains a key IT services provider in its home country, with strategic contracts linking it to the defense and nuclear industry, as well as the cybersecurity of the Olympic Games. Atos is also in talks with a consortium led by its largest shareholder, Onepoint, and creditors to bail out the business.

Atos also reconfirmed plans to reach a definitive restructuring agreement with a consortium led by David Layani’s Onepoint, its top shareholder, which may reach a final agreement next month.

Atos, loaded with close to €5 billion in debt, has been under a formal restructuring process — known as conciliation — since April with creditors and banks to try to avoid bankruptcy. The choice of the Onepoint-led bid marks the culmination of months of negotiations involving the deeply distressed firm’s banks, creditors, shareholders, and the French government.

--With assistance from James Regan.

(Adds shares, Le Maire comment)

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