(Reuters) – Atos is entering “a pivotal year” after facing a series of setbacks in 2021, the head of the French IT consulting group said on Monday.
The firm, which lost half of its market value last year, exited France’s blue-chip equity index and parted ways with its boss, stirring speculation about a buyout or the arrival of activist investors.
“Atos faced significant headwinds in 2021,” Rodolphe Belmer, who took over the reins from former Chief Executive Officer Elie Girard in January, said in an earnings statement. “It failed to meet its financial objectives, and a comprehensive review of its assets and contracts (…) have led to major impairments.”
Formed partly by a string of acquisitions under former CEO Thierry Breton, now EU industry chief, Atos saw its annual net income swung to a loss of 2.96 billion euros and, as a result, will refrain from proposing a dividend.
Belmer, who vowed to start over with a clean slate, said this month Atos had taken writedowns of about 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in the second half of 2021.
Le Monde reported earlier Monday on a potential dismantling scenario as the new CEO also plans to reorganise the group around three business units, “as if he were preparing a split”, an expert told the French daily newspaper.
“Simplified, more efficient, this governance will be the backbone of the new Atos,” Belmer said.
The continued decline in classic IT services, personnel cost inflation and supply chain tensions will put further pressure on profitability in the first half, the company noted, but revenue growth should turn positive in the second part of the year.
“2022 will be a pivotal year for the group, paving the way for a recovery driven by an ambitious turnaround plan,” Belmer added.
($1 = 0.8913 euro)
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