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2 Jan 2009

Altos Places Hedge Fund Shareholders on Board

French IT services group Atos Origin is holding a shareholder meeting on Feb. 10, making board changes and initiating a plan to speed up recovery spearheaded by its new chief executive Thierry Breton.

Atos Origin is replacing it's current structure for a single managing board headed by a Chairman and CEO, according to a Reuters report.

Benoit d'Angelin, who represents hedge fund Centaurus on Atos's current supervisory board, will not seek a seat on the new board, Centaurus recently cut its direct stake in Atos in September to 6.66% from around 12%, selling its shares to PAI Partners.

PAI Partners, which is Atos's main shareholder with a 22.61% holding, would now have three representatives on Atos's new board, the list showed. Centaurus, together with Pardus Capital, forced board changes at Atos Origin last year after a long-running battle between the company and the activist hedge funds. The two funds still own a combined 16.71% of Atos capital.

Pardus, which sources have said has no plans to sell its stake in Atos, will keep its representative on Atos's new board, Behdad Alizadeh.

Meanwhile Jean-Paul Bechat, the former head of Safran's managing board, and LVMH executive Nicolas Bazire, will sit on the new board as independent members.

Atos Origin gave the following composition of the 12-member board, which has yet to be approved by shareholders:

Rene Abate, former chairman of Boston consulting Group; Bedhad Alizadeh, Partner, Pardus Capital Management; Nicolas Bazire, LVMH Exec Committee member, Acquisitions; Jean-Paul Bechat, former head of Safran Managing Board; Thierry Breton, Atos Origin Chief Executive; Dominique Megret, Chairman of Pai Partners; Bertrand Meunier, Head of Investments at Pai Partners; Michel Paris, Senior Partner at Pai Partners; Vernon Sankey, former Chair and CEO of Reckitt & Colman, UK; Jean-Philippe Thierry, AGF Chairman; also on the list is one independent member, who has yet to be named and one representative of the workers holding Atos shares.