By Pierre Bertrand

Atos received a nonbinding offer from the French government to buy part of the IT-firm's big data and cybersecurity division for 700 million euros ($751.6 million), including debt.

A potential sale could offer a lifeline to the debt-laden company that earlier this week picked a financial-rescue proposal from a consortium including key shareholder Onepoint, though the value of the bid is on the low end of what the French government had previously indicated.

Atos's activities span high-performance computing, IT management, service and maintenance, cloud and cybersecurity, including for governments, homeland security and defense clients. Atos is also the cybersecurity provider for this summer's Paris Olympics.

The French government's bid is for Atos's advanced computing, mission-critical systems and cybersecurity products activities, housed under its big data and cybersecurity division, the company said.

The government's proposal offered the company's shares a reprieve after having lost around 94% of their value in the last year. At 0820 GMT, shares traded 12% higher at EUR0.86, but remained down 26% for the week to date.

France's interest in the division dates back to late April. At the time, Atos received a nonbinding letter of intent from the French state to acquire parts of the division for an enterprise valuation between EUR700 million and EUR1 billion, as the government worked to prevent the collapse of a company involved in sensitive operations.

Atos said it will discuss the offer with the French state but that there were no guarantees a definitive deal would be struck.

A previous attempt to sell the big data and security unit to Airbus for up to EUR1.8 billion fell apart in March.

This wasn't the only time this year the company attempted to support its coffers through the selling off of a business.

Atos previously tried to sell its Tech Foundations to EP Equity Investment, steered by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, but in February the company said talks had failed to reach an agreement.

Atos is working to restore investor sentiment and return to profitability through a financial restructuring with a consortium including key shareholder Onepoint, Butler Industries, Econocom and some Atos creditors. It reiterated that it intends to have the plan implemented by July.

The restructuring plan aims to inject funds into Atos and address the company's persistently high debt.

Write to Pierre Bertrand at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-14-24 0453ET