PARIS, April 18 A takeover saga shaking up France's IT services sector took a new turn on Friday when Atos said its bid for rival Steria, made before the latter agreed to an all-share offer from Sopra, was in cash - and was still on the table.
Sopra's 730 million euro ($1.01 billion) offer for Steria, valued at 22 euros a share and offering one Sopra share for every four Steria shares, was announced on April 8.
On April 17, Steria confirmed a report that it had received an approach from Atos - also at about 22 euros a share - before it agreed to the Sopra deal. It said both boards had been aware of the rival proposal but decided to go ahead with their deal.
Atos's Friday announcement made clear that its proposal, made in a letter on April 4, was aimed at making an offer of 22 euros a share in cash. It said Steria replied on April 7 saying it was "not in a position to examine" the offer.
"Since then, recognising the desire of Steria to pursue its merger project with Sopra, Atos told Steria by letter that if the company wanted to re-initiate the project to join together with Atos, the Atos board was ready to maintain the terms of its friendly offer - at 22 euros per Steria share in cash."
Atos said its offer would remain on the table until the proposed extraordinary shareholders meeting at Sopra on May 27. ($1 = 0.7228 Euros) (Reporting by Matthias Blamont and Andrew Callus; Editing by Hugh Lawson)