(Bloomberg) -- Atos SE appointed Paul Saleh to replace Yves Bernaert as chief executive officer, following a disagreement between the board and the outgoing leader on a turnaround strategy for the embattled technology company. 

Bernaert joined Atos in October from Accenture Plc to oversee the group’s turnaround, including refinancing, but said he decided to leave “due to a difference of opinion on the governance” to adjust and execute on his plans, according to company statement Monday. 

Shares fell as much as 18% on Monday in Paris, while its bonds also plunged. The company’s €750 million ($821 million) unsecured notes due in May next year plummeted 15 cents on the euro to 53 cents, the most since November 2018 according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Atos has faced a series of setbacks and governance changes in recent years as it attempts to split up its operations ahead of more than €2 billion in debt repayments in the coming two years. 

The company is in discussions to sell its legacy Tech Foundations unit to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky’s EPEI. It resumed talking to Airbus SE about a potential sale of its big data and cybersecurity business, Atos announced earlier this month. Shares have fallen 68% over the last year.

Atos also said it expects free cash flow in the second half of 2023 to miss its target by about €100 million, but still plans to hit its full-year financial targets.

Saleh, Atos’s fifth CEO in less than two-and-a-half years, was previously the company’s chief financial officer. 

Elie Girard resigned as CEO in October 2021 and was followed by Rodolphe Belmer, Nourdine Bihmane and Bernaert.

Jacques-François de Prest, who joins from automotive repair company Mobivia SA and has previously held senior finance roles at Vodafone Group Plc and Millicom International Cellular SA, will take over as CFO.

The potential sale to Kretinsky’s EPEI has hit some roadblocks following management changes and since French lawmakers raised national security concerns about a foreign investor becoming a major shareholder in a business with government defense contracts. The parties are now renegotiating the terms of the deal.

On Sunday, Le Figaro reported that Atos chairman Jean-Pierre Mustier was weighing asking a commercial court to appoint a so-called mandataire ad hoc to assist him in refinancing negotiations with the group’s banks. Atos said Monday that it had not filed a request to appoint a mandataire ad hoc.

In early January, the IT company said it was considering other ways to raise cash including further asset sales that would far exceed an earlier target of €400 million. It has started talks with its banks to secure their commitment to maintain financing, and provide refinancing where necessary. 

--With assistance from Irene García Pérez.

(Updates with bonds and additional context starting in third paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.