Atos, the French IT company, experienced a sharp decline in shares on Monday following the appointment of a new chief executive and a warning of lower-than-expected free cash flow for the previous year.
Change in Leadership
Chief Financial Officer Paul Saleh has been promoted to the role of chief executive with immediate effect, taking over from Yves Bernaert, who had only been in the position for three months. Atos cited a “difference of opinion on the governance to adjust and execute the strategy” as the reason for Bernaert’s departure.
This announcement marks another shake-up for Atos, which has faced a turbulent couple of years. The company lost two chief executives in 2021 and 2022 due to a failed takeover attempt and a series of profit warnings that affected investor confidence.
Despite these challenges, Atos stated that it would meet its revenue and profit guidance for 2023. However, free cash flow is expected to be slightly below its previous forecasts by approximately EUR100 million.
As a result of these developments, Atos shares fell by 16% to EUR4.08 at 0815 GMT. The stock has seen a decline of over 40% since the beginning of the year.
Plans for Restructuring
Atos is currently in talks to sell its Tech Foundations business to investment company EP Equity Investment for EUR2 billion and its cybersecurity unit to Airbus. The indicative offer for the cybersecurity unit values it at up to EUR1.8 billion, including debt.
Commenting on the appointment of Paul Saleh as CEO, Jean Pierre Mustier, the chairman of Atos’s board of directors, highlighted Saleh’s “extensive experience in corporate finance, corporate turnarounds, and restructuring–including within the technology industry.” Meanwhile, Jacques-Francois de Prest will take over as CFO from Saleh, starting on Jan. 29.