Published on Sep 13, 2023 at 3:48 p.m.
Between Atos and its shareholders, the current no longer flows. After the CIAM hedge fund which has just launched a campaign to derail the plan to sell outsourcing activities to the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, an ociation of minority shareholders demands accountability from the board of directors of Atos.
In a letter addressed to directors last Monday, the UDAAC (Union of Shareholders of Atos Constructifs) wants more transparency on the transaction which was announced on 1er August and which provides for the sale to Daniel Kretinsky of Tech Foundations, the “old” outsourcing businesses of Atos. She insists that certain documents be made public without delay. Among these documents, the agreement specifying the transaction and justifying the opening of exclusive negotiations, the independent expert’s report, the company’s business plan and the draft transition agreements between Tech Foundations and Eviden. The minority shareholders are demanding that the sale of Tech Foundations, which will be accompanied by a capital increase, also be subject to a binding vote at the general meeting of shareholders.
It was at the end of August that the UDAAC (Union of Shareholders of Atos Constructifs) was formed to defend the interests of shareholders (individuals and institutions) who feel wronged by the actions of successive management of the company. His office includes five people, including two auditors and a former Atos executive. Hervé Lecesne, CEO of Nactis Flavors, and long-term investor in Atos, is also a member. Last June, he declared to the Financial Markets Authority that he was acting in concert with the management company Sycomore, a specialist in socially responsible investment.
Restructuring of the board of directors
In addition to more transparency, minority shareholders are also demanding a restructuring of the board of directors, with the entry of new independent members. According to them, this restructuring is “even more essential today than before the general meeting of last June”. In June, Sycomore had proposed the appointment of Léo Apotheker , member of the board of directors of Schneider Electric as president in place of Bertrand Meunier. This resolution was then rejected by 67.38% by the voters.
Finally, the ociation points out what it considers to be “financial communication deficiencies”. She is surprised by the inaccuracies on the nature of nearly 2 billion euros of debt (excluding bank debts) which reduce the sale price, and mentions communication problems on the group’s financial situation. She also does not understand why the half-year results, the publication of which on July 28 led to a drop in the price of more than 20% on the same day, were not the subject of a results warning previously.
“It is essential that the independent members of the board of directors, headed by Mr. René Proglio in his capacity as chairman of the accounts committee and isted by an independent audit firm of international renown, implement an audit mission internal,” writes the president of the UDAAC, Francis Unal.
Contacted by “Les Echos”, Atos did not wish to comment on this letter addressed to the board of directors.