Atos Origin suspends shares amid takeover rumours

Shares in IT services firm Atos Origin have been suspended with an announcement on the company’s future expected on Monday 14 May.

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Shares in IT services firm Atos Origin have been suspended with an announcement on the company’s future expected on Monday 14 May.

The French firm is rumoured to be the subject of a takeover bid by a consortium of private equity firms including Permira, Centaurus and Eurazeo, Silver Lake Partners and PAI.

Atos has major contracts in the UK public sector, including the Department of Constitutional Affairs – where it secured part of the work on the long delayed Libra case management system for magistrates’ courts when rival Fujitsu’s contract was not renewed – NHS Scotland and the Government Gateway web portal.

The company is the global IT partner for the Olympic Games. In the UK it is responsible for delivering the new electronic trading platform for the London Insurance Market and is the outsourcing partner for financial services company NFU Mutual. Other UK contracts include services to Premier Travel Inns and rail company GNER and four other train operators.

But Atos posted losses of €264m (£178m) in its full-year results for 2006 in February, after taking a €378m (£255m) hit in impairment charges on its UK and Italian businesses.

In an announcement issued with its results, Atos said the UK problems had been caused by “delays in new business”, but major UK contracts signed at the end of 2006 would start “contributing progressively” to revenues and profits this year.

The IT services firm launched a major business transformation plan and a shake-up of its senior management team in the UK.

Analyst firm IDC has described the company’s UK operations as “overweight in the public sector” and “struggling to ride the wave of IT services demand revival in the private sector”.

The company was also been accused of “overstretching itself” with its venture away from core IT services and into healthcare service provision, after a £257m deal to supply the NHS with diagnostic services ran into trouble earlier this year.

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