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Innovative Upstart Surges Ahead in Atos's M&A Arena: A Strategic Coup Unfolds

Headline: "Upstart Steals March on Atos’s M&A Battle"

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters Breakingviews) — In a surprising turn of events, Atos (ATOS.PA) appears to have found an unexpected ally and potential acquirer in the form of smaller rival Onepoint. On Wednesday, Onepoint announced the acquisition of a 9.9% stake in the struggling French IT company, providing a boost to new Chairman Jean-Pierre Mustier as he navigates the sale of Atos’s consulting business to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky for approximately 2 billion euros, including debt.

Mustier, orchestrating a plan conceived prior to his tenure, aims to split Atos into two entities. Following the sale to Kretinsky, the remaining division, specializing in big data and cybersecurity, is slated to be listed under the name Eviden. Notably, Onepoint had proposed the acquisition of Eviden last September for an enterprise value of 4.2 billion euros. However, instead of pursuing the full acquisition, the company has secured a formidable 10% stake at a considerably lower cost, estimated to be no more than 70 million euros. If a 900 million euro rights issue, integral to the split plan, is confirmed, the total investment for the stake will approximate 160 million euros.

This strategic move by Onepoint may act as a deterrent to other companies that had expressed interest in acquiring assets from Eviden, including major players like aerospace group Airbus (AIR.PA) or telecoms firm Orange (ORAN.PA). Furthermore, in the event of a deal leading to the consolidation of a robust national player in cybersecurity, Onepoint could potentially benefit from the support of Atos’s significant stakeholder, the French government.

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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In this unexpected twist of corporate maneuvering, Onepoint's strategic acquisition of a significant stake in Atos introduces a dynamic element to the company's ongoing M&A saga. The move not only provides Atos with a lifeline amid its restructuring efforts but also potentially alters the landscape for interested parties such as Airbus and Orange. Onepoint's adept navigation of the situation, securing a commanding position at a fraction of the initially proposed acquisition cost, showcases a savvy business approach. As the unfolding developments reshape the contours of Atos's future, the French government's stake and potential backing further add layers of complexity to the strategic narrative. The stage is set for a compelling chapter in the ongoing M&A drama, with Onepoint emerging as an unexpected protagonist in Atos's transformative journey.