By Pierre Bertrand and Mauro Orru

Atos accepted a financial-restructuring proposal from a consortium including key shareholder Onepoint to salvage the debt-laden French IT firm, outgunning a rival bid from a group led by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

The rescue package comes after several tumultuous years for a company with contracts in France's military and nuclear industry that is also the cybersecurity provider for this summer's Paris Olympics.

The group, which had four chief executives since January 2022, has grappled with persistently high debt, mired finances and sapped investor confidence. Atos's stock lost nearly 93% of its value over the last 12 months.

Shares maintained their downward slide even after the Onepoint-led consortium proposal was accepted, slumping by more than 10% in Tuesday morning trading as they touched a low of EUR0.96. Shares had traded as much as 4.4% higher earlier in the session.

Onepoint, which formed a consortium with some Atos creditors that also includes Butler Industries and Econocom, plans to inject 250 million euros ($269.2 million) in equity into Atos, provide EUR1.5 billion in debt instruments and bank guarantees and convert EUR2.9 billion of existing debt into equity. The proposal outgunned a rival bid from a group led by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

Atos's decision to proceed with the Onepoint consortium comes after a series of acquisitions and investments across Europe by Kretinsky, who recently scooped up the U.K.'s Royal Mail postal service after owner International Distribution Services agreed to be bought for almost $5 billion.

Earlier this year, a Kretinsky-led consortium took control of embattled French supermarket owner Casino Guichard-Perrachon. In April, his EP Corporate Group also agreed to take a 20% stake of Thyssenkrupp's steel business with the possibility of increasing it to 50%.

Atos said Tuesday that it would work with the Onepoint consortium to reach a definitive financial restructuring agreement to be implemented by July 2024. Existing shareholders would hold less than 0.1% of the share capital after the financial-restructuring is implemented, it said.

The company is seeking to restore profitability and improve its credit profile, hoping to regain a BB rating by 2026.

Atos had previously said the rescue plan would cause a massive dilution of existing shareholders. Its debt at the end of March deepened to EUR3.9 billion from roughly EUR2.2 billion at the end of last year. It posted a EUR3.44 billion net loss at the end of 2023 due to impairments and reorganization expenses.

To stay afloat, Atos in April came to an agreement in principle with a group of banks, bondholders and the French State for much-needed liquidity. That month, Atos estimated it needed EUR1.1 billion to fund its business over the 2024-25 period--nearly double its previous estimate of EUR600 million.

France recently offered to acquire parts of Atos's big data and security arm for up to EUR1 billion, underscoring efforts from the government to prevent a collapse of a company involved in sensitive operations.

Atos said the Onepoint rescue deal aligned with the corporate interests of the company, particularly those of its employees and clients.

It added that the offer was also generally consistent with the financial parameters it had outlined and that it provided adequate financial liquidity to fund the business.

Crucially, the deal has the support of a large number of Atos's financial creditors, the company said, adding that it had greater confidence in clinching a definitive financial restructuring agreement.

"Today is an important milestone in our financial restructuring process," Atos Chairman Jean-Pierre Mustier said. "This solution gives us a clear path to reach a final financial restructuring agreement by July."

Write to Pierre Bertrand at and to Mauro Orru at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-11-24 0501ET