Paris/Berlin In the struggle to realign the faltering IT company Atos, CEO Rodolphe Belmer takes his hat off and shakes shareholders with it. He will leave the company at the end of September, Atos announced on Tuesday at the start of Capital Markets Day. In the stock market, the news caused horror. The paper slumped 27 percent, falling to its lowest level since early 2009.
Meanwhile, the takeover speculation is piling up. The departure of Belmer, who had only taken over the reins at the start of the year, was preceded by protracted disputes with the Board of Directors about the strategy. Atos has recently surprised with two profit warnings and has lost two thirds of its market value in the past twelve months.
Atos wants to counter the ongoing headwinds with a new company structure and is considering splitting into two listed companies. For the restructuring, the company wants to take a total of 1.6 billion euros by 2023. Former Eutelsat CEO Belmer announced that non-strategically important assets in the amount of 700 million euros would be sold for financing. He is to be followed by two bosses – Nourdine Bihmane and Philippe Oliva. Both are to lead the respective companies in the event of a split.
Chief Financial Officer Uwe Stelter had already announced his withdrawal in March. According to media reports, the dispute between the Management Board and the Board of Directors focused on different ideas for the future of the cybersecurity division BDS, which is considered the crown jewel of Atos. While Belmer wanted to sell BDS, the board wants to hold on to the business.
Atos develops solutions for data management, business applications and cybersecurity. Similar to T-Systems, the French are increasingly focusing on the cloud business and see themselves as specialists for digital transformation. Atos employs more than 100,000 people worldwide – in Germany, after the recent job cuts, there are still around 9,000 employees.
Among other things, the former Siemens SIS division, which the Munich-based technology group sold to the French in 2011, has been merged into Atos. Since then, Siemens has been a major shareholder in Atos. Atos, in turn, was a major shareholder in the French payment processor Worldline for many years, but parted with its remaining stake on Tuesday night and sold shares worth 220 million euros again.