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