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France's Atos raises concerns with watchdog over new shareholder

By Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) -IT consulting group Atos, which has been in the spotlight over accounting problems at two U.S. units, said on Tuesday it had contacted France’s financial markets watchdog after a new investor built a significant stake in the company.

The French IT group said it had concerns about U.S. firm Finsur Corp and the authenticity of a recent filing regarding the size of its stake, although it did not elaborate.

The company has also filed a complaint with financial prosecutors over the alleged release of false or misleading information, an Atos spokeswoman said. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A filing from May 17 with France’s Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) shows that Finsur Corp, described as a U.S. firm owned by Dylan Dariah and registered in the State of Delaware, revealed a 5.08% stake in France’s Atos. According to AMF filings, Finsur Corp’s stake has now dropped to 4.23%.

Company registers in France show that Finsur, which had been declared as a company in the country in 2019, was no longer active as such as of February 2020.

BFM Business earlier reported that Atos – which develops solutions in areas such as cloud services and big data – had contacted the AMF.

“We had some doubts about this shareholder”, the Atos spokeswoman said, adding that these related to authenticity of Finsur’s AMF filing.

The AMF did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters was unable to independently contact Finsur and its representative in France. BFM Business said it had received no response.

Atos disclosed in April that auditors had found accounting errors at two U.S. units, sending its shares down at the time. They are down 26% so far this year.

The company has said it would conduct a full accounting review of the two U.S. units and would give a status update when it releases first-half results on July 28.

(Reporting by Matthieu Protard and Blandine Henault, Editing by Sarah White and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)