PARIS, April 19 French IT services group Steria
, which has agreed to an all-share offer from Sopra
, denied having engaged in discussions with rival Atos
and said the latter's bid was unsolicited.
The takeover saga in France's IT services sector took a new
turn on Friday after Atos said its bid for Steria, made before
Steria agreed Sopra's offer, was in cash and was still on the
In a statement released late on Friday, Steria responded by
saying that it had "clearly indicated that it did not wish to
enter into discussions with Atos". Nevertheless, it said, Atos
sent a letter to its board on April 4 about a possible offer of
22 euros per share.
"It was therefore an unsolicited step and one aimed at
disrupting the exclusive ongoing negotiations with Sopra Group,"
Steria said. "Steria reiterates its rejection of the unsolicited
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.
The deal would create the third-biggest French player in its
home market with revenue of more than 3.1 billion euros.
On April 17, Steria confirmed a report that Atos had
approached it with a bid for 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' Friday announcement said that Steria replied on April
7 saying it was "not in a position to examine" the offer. It
said that its offer would remain on the table until the proposed
extraordinary shareholders meeting at Sopra on May 27.
($1 = 0.7228 Euros)
(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Rosalind Russell)