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France's Atos in talks to sell Italian business to Italy's Lutech

Logo of Atos is seen on a company building, in Nantes

By Mathieu Rosemain and Elvira Pollina

PARIS/MILAN (Reuters) -Atos, under investor pressure to boost profitability and its shares, said on Thursday it had entered into exclusive negotiations with Italian engineering firm Lutech to sell some of its assets in Italy for cash.

The Italian business covered by the proposed sale accounts for 2% of the group's total revenue in 2021, said Atos, which is undertaking a 700 million euro asset sale programme to finance its turnaround plan.

"We are very confident about this 700 million (euros)," Diane Galbe, senior vice president in charge of strategy and mergers and acquisitions at Atos, said.

Atos has already sold its remaining stake in French payments services company Worldline for 220 million euros. With the expected sale of the Italian division, two thirds of the asset sales would be completed, Atos said.

The group did not give a price tag for Atos Italia, but a source close to the matter said it could be around 240 million euros ($248 million).

Galbe confirmed Atos was still seeking a buyer for some of its Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) legacy activities, which the group said in July 2021 it would sell.

The sale of Italian assets excludes Atos' supercomputer-related activities and UCC's Italian operations.

Milan-based Lutech, which provides a wide range of services to help companies digitalize their businesses, from IT infrastructure to cloud and cybersecurity, was bought last year by Apax Partners in a deal valuing it at some 500 million euros, a source said at that time.

Combining Lutech assets with those of Atos Italia, whose clients in Italy include companies such as energy giant Eni, will create a player generating some 800 million euros in annual sales, said Giuseppe Di Franco, CEO of Atos Italia.

($1 = 0.9665 euros)

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Tassilo Hummel, Mark Potter and Alexander Smith)