© Reuters File Photo: UtelSat CEO Rudolph Belmar, Washington, USA, addresses participants at the Access Intelligence Satellite 2017 conference on Blue Origin’s future plans. REUTERS / Joshua Roberts / File Photo
By Mathieu Rosemain and Gwénaëlle Barzic
(Reuters) – Rodolph Belmar will replace Eli Girard as chief executive of Atos early next year, the French IT consulting firm said on Wednesday, abruptly announcing that Girard’s short tenure as CEO would be covered.
Belmar, 52, is the current boss of the French satellite firm Utelsat, which he joined in 2015. A graduate of France’s elite HEC Business School, he previously headed the Pay-TV station Canal +, owned by media group Vivendi (OTC :).
Speculation about the future of Girard, 43, has been mounting in recent months, following a string of disasters after Atos’s share price fell more than 40% this year.
The most painful has arisen from the accounting errors identified by auditors for the two units of Atos in North America. The April release shocked investors and caused the firm’s shares to fall 20% in one day.
The audit firm has finally cleared the accounts, but several analysts say the news has further eroded investor confidence in Girard’s management and strategy after a failed attempt to buy DXC technology, a deal worth more than $ 10 billion for the New York-listed group. What would be the biggest acquisition for contract-hungry Atos.
The group also lowered its 2021 target in July, blaming the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.
The company’s collapse at the behest of investors led Atos to pull out of the blue-chip in France last month, and there has been speculation about a takeover or the arrival of active investors.
However, the group – whose top investors are German engineering and technology company Siemens and President Emmanuel Macron’s first prime minister Edouard Philipp as a board member – is considered strategic by the French government because it provides secure information to the country’s military. Makes it complicated.
It owns the supercomputers used to develop the next generation of technology based on artificial intelligence and deep learning.
Girard, who will leave the company on Friday, replaces Thierry Breton, today’s European head of industry, after serving as a close associate of the former French finance minister as CFO in 2019.
Girard, a former top executive at Telecom Group Orange, inherited a company that expanded through rapid acquisitions, which included cloud and cybersecurity firm Bull.
Atos, which plans to gradually dispose of non-core assets and find partners for classic infrastructure activities, said Bellmer’s term in office will begin on January 20, 2022.
Pierre Bernabe and Adrian Gregory Belmar will be appointed acting co-CEOs until effective Monday, October 25, the company said.
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