This statement does not constitute an accusation against the actors cited, but a prospective based on documented precedents.
-In Chapter 1, we explored the weapon of strategic acquisitions by investment funds with close ties to American services. We have seen that such funds had indeed approached Atos in the midst of a stock market storm.
-In chapter 2, we noted that certain Hedge Funds using short selling are considered as “weapons of war” by the highest authorities. We have seen their pressure on the Atos share price.
-In Chapter 3, we will see how leaks, negative announcements, and unfounded rumors could have been orchestrated or amplified within the framework of this downward pressure and weakened the Atos company.
3/ INFORMATIONAL DESTABILIZATION
American doctrine requires that all means of the State (economic, political, intelligence, military, etc.) be mobilized to defend the interests of the United States in the world. Precedents have shown that the dissemination of unfounded rumours, artificial doubts about the activities of a company, or incitement to commit various faults, can constitute a method of destabilization for the purpose of weakening and/or corporate takeovers. The Atos case is symptomatic because it happens to have been the target of… All the methods mentioned!
In September 1998, Alcatel launched an assault on the DSC Communications group. But the US considers it strategic: the sanction will not be long in coming. Less than ten days after the operation, rumors are flowing into the trading rooms* (15): one of them claims that the management board sold stock options before the announcement of the half-year results. The rumor will turn out to be false, but the title has stalled. Another indicates that Goldman Sachs and the broker Kleinwort Benson would have sold 2 million titles each. Another fall. In this context, Alcatel publishes disappointing results: the fall in the price is historic*: almost -40% in one session* (16). The unfounded rumors continue: for example, mention is made of the imminent resignation of the CEO, Mr. Tchuruk. Still false.
Shortly after these information and stock market attacks, the American Lucent came out of the woodwork and expressed his interest in Alcatel. The prey resists several years, but its market capitalization is weak, and the difficulties accumulate. The merger with Lucent will eventually take place in 2006.
IN THE CASE OF ATOS:
-In April 2021, the auditors were forced to issue “reservations” on the consolidated accounts, following the reporting by two American subsidiaries of “doubts” following possible accounting errors”. The problem seems relative because the companies represent less than 11% of turnover and Atos will specify that ‘the accounts are certified and [que] the financial statements remain unchanged”* (17). However, the price fell by nearly 20% on this information.
When, at the end of the audit, the “doubts” are removed, the price strangely hardly corrects this unfounded drop.
-In May 2021, the company Finsur Corp, registered in the US state of Delaware, announced that it had crossed the threshold of 5% of the capital of Atos. This announcement provokes a wave of panic at Atos which decides to seize the authority of the financial markets (AMF) for “presumption of price manipulation”. In this case, on May 21, Finsur indicates in another notice to have fallen below the threshold of 5% of the capital, to 4.19% exactly and to consider “continuing to sell shares and exit the capital”.
The investigation determines that Finsur Corp is owned by a 26-year-old French man unknown to the business world, and that the crossing declarations were totally false* (18). The accused receives a derisory fine (€800) for disseminating false or misleading information. During the investigation, he assured that he did not know that his statements would be made public. This is surprising for an individual who obviously has the knowledge to register a company in the United States.
If the stock price of Atos has not undergone strong variation following this false information, the precise motivations and its possible links with the United States of this individual remain mysterious.
-A few months earlier, in January 2021, Atos’ share price collapsed by more than 13% following information from Reuters indicating its interest in an American competitor, DXC Technology. The operation indeed seems incomprehensible when the DXC company, which operates on a declining outsourcing activity and is crippled with debts, would then represent the largest transaction carried out so far by Atos: 10 billion dollars, while Atos weighs at this time 7 billion dollars. Moreover, this project contradicts the ambitions displayed in terms of acquisitions, which were to focus on Cloud or Cyber-security activities in particular.
Very quickly, the project was abandoned by the Atos management board. But the price does not retrace, once again almost not the drop caused by this information. If the fault seems to be attributable to Atos, then headed by Elie Girard, the context of the discussions with the American group deserves clarification.
Which party took the initiative, where did this amazing idea come from, was the board influenced in its choice? These questions remain unanswered to this day.
Beyond the internal difficulties at Atos which will appear later, these events have contributed to weakening the stock on the market. The fall in the price, which plunged by 40% in a few months, was amplified by a growing exposure of short selling positions mentioned above.
In addition to these alleged informational destabilization maneuvers, additional pressure is exerted by the American legal weapon, on which numerous suspicions of connivance with various American services are documented. Atos is also concerned by this aspect, which we will explore in the next chapter.