The action of the French IT group Atos fell by almost 10% on Monday on the Paris Stock Exchange, falling to a historic low, after deputies tabled two amendments proposing to “temporarily” nationalize part or all of the activities of the company. Around 2:24 p.m. (12:24 p.m. GMT), the stock lost 9.77% to 4.22 euros, after having previously lost up to 13%, in a market where the CAC 40 fell by 0.14%. Since the start of the year, the value of Atos shares has been halved.
Atos' share price is currently at its lowest level in its history. It is lower than its value following the merger of the activities of Axime and Sligos which gave birth to the group in 1997. “A crucial player in sovereignty and national security, the Atos group is today in full restructuring, leaving the risk of a loss of sovereignty over activities such as supercomputers, security system integration systems or even cybersecurity", supports the socialist deputy Philippe Brun in his amendment tabled on Friday, and quoted on Saturday in Le Parisien. It values the entities to be nationalized at 390 million euros.
Also read: Behind the departure of Bertrand Meunier, the president of Atos
In detail, Philippe Brun proposes to nationalize the Atos Big Data and Cybersecurities (BDS) division, which provides numerous military security services, and the Atos Worldgrid division, which develops software used in nuclear power plants and various public and parapublic services. (Linky, Cnam, SNCF...). Olivier Marleix, leader of the LR deputies who all signed a second amendment aimed at nationalizing the entire French group, confirmed to AFP that he wanted to “question the government” on the future of a “strategic” company in his whole, which he estimates at 500 million euros.
But for a source close to the group, these proposals amount to “a pure political maneuver where Atos is an instrument”. From the point of view of its markets and its 110,000 employees, “Atos is a company largely oriented internationally”, including for its so-called sensitive activities, she told AFP. According to her, a takeover of the group by the State would therefore risk weakening the company's market shares abroad.
In August, 82 LR parliamentarians called for keeping Atos “under French control”, particularly because its branch specializing in supercomputers is essential for nuclear test simulations and deterrence. These amendments, tabled on the expenditure part of the budget bill for 2024, will be examined in the Finance Committee starting Tuesday. Under fire from shareholders and politicians for its plan to split Atos into two branches, its president Bertrand Meunier resigned last week. And its contested plan to sell one of the branches to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky has been postponed until “the beginning of the second quarter of 2024”.