By Mauro Orru

Atos shares fell Monday after S&P Global Ratings lowered its ratings for the French IT company for the third time in less than a year, saying the group could face challenges or delays in addressing its liquidity shortage.

At 0910 GMT, Atos shares traded 1.3% lower at EUR2.45. The stock is down roughly 65% since the year began.

The ratings agency on Friday slashed its long-term issuer credit rating on Atos as well as its issue rating on the company's senior unsecured bonds to CCC from B-. S&P said that Atos's refinancing negotiations with banks are taking longer than expected, warning of risks that an agreement might not be reached.

"Absent an agreement with its banks, this could lead to a debt restructuring over the next 12 months, which we could view as a distressed exchange and tantamount to default," the ratings agency said. S&P had last downgraded the group on Jan. 19.

Atos is grappling with a debt pile that at the end of June 2023 stood at 2.32 billion euros ($2.50 billion). The group is in talks to sell its Tech Foundations business to an investment company steered by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky for EUR2 billion, and its cybersecurity unit to Airbus for up to EUR1.8 billion.

Last month, the company appointed Paul Saleh as chief executive, the latest shake-up after a few tumultuous years. The group lost two chief executives in 2021 and 2022 amid a failed takeover attempt and a number of profit warnings that dented investors' confidence.

Write to Mauro Orru at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-12-24 0431ET