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Atos looks to split up cyber security division as CEO exits

The company is set to split into two but so far the news hasn’t been taken well by investors as shares are down by nearly 20%

The French IT company Atos is considering splitting its business in two and revealed the company’s CEO is also set to leave.

The company’s CEO, Rodolphe Belmer, took over in January. His departure follows weeks of reports of board divisions over revamping the company, as reported by Reuters. Belmer and the board reportedly clashed over the fate of the cyber security unit BDS as he was interested in selling the business while the board wanted to retain it.

The company said today it’s studying a separation into two publicly listed companies. The first, dubbed Evidian, would bring together its digital and big data and security (BDS) business lines, which generated €4.9 billion in revenue in 2021, a 7.8% operating margin. It would be managed by incoming CEO Philippe Oliva and CFO Anil Agrawal. It would focus on providing its cyber security, big data, and analytics to customers. 

The second company, called Atos, would be made up of Atos’ Tech Foundations business line, focused on designing, building, and managing complex and vital information systems worldwide, which generated €5.4 billion in 2021. It would be managed by new CEO Nourdine Bihmane and CFO Darren Pilcher and aim to deliver a full turnaround and restore growth by 2026, considering its revenues declined by -12% last year.

The Atos board believes this strategy would maximise value for all shareholders by helping the two companies have a dedicated management team and be more agile to better serve their customers and execute their transformation plans. 

“Today we announce our intention to take the in-depth transformation of the group, started at the beginning of the year, one step further,” said Belmer. “This potential new path for Atos would aim to optimise the two distinct markets that the group operates in, both with fundamentally different dynamics: on the one hand, the infrastructure-driven, asset-led market, and, on the other hand, the digital applications and security-driven market.”

The company added that due to this reorganisation of the Atos group, Belmer has decided to resign from his positions as director and CEO of the company. This will take effect on September 30, 2022, at the latest, to allow new deputy CEOs to complete their transitions.

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The news has initially shocked investors, with the company’s share price falling by nearly 20% today.

The French technology company is also set to sell assets worth around €700 million. It has already sold a 2.5% stake in Worldline, a payments company, as part of these plans and raised €220 million in the process.

Atos is considered to be strategic by the French government due to its high-tech assets like supercomputer manufacturing and software used by the army and finance ministry for tax collection. Former French prime minister Edouard Philippe is also a member of the board.

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