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French tech group Atos names new CEO and delivers cash flow warning

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Logo of Atos is seen on a company building, in Nantes

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) -French technology company Atos named Paul Saleh as its new chief executive on Monday and warned that free cash flow would be slightly below its initial target for the second half of the year, sending its share price tumbling.

Atos said Saleh, currently chief financial officer, would become CEO - the company's fourth in less than two years as it has grappled with a series of profit warnings.

Atos shares were down by 16% in early trading. The stock has fallen by about 40% since the start of the year.

Saleh takes over from Yves Bernaert, who leaves the company "after an intense period of transformation", Atos said, with Jacques-Francois de Prest coming in as CFO after finance roles with car parts business Mobivia and telecoms group Vodafone.

Les Echos newspaper reported on Monday that the company's restructuring plan was facing difficulties.

Atos, which is taking longer than expected to negotiate the sale of its loss-making Tech Foundations arm, said it has not filed a request to open conciliation proceedings with creditors.

The potential Tech Foundation sale to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky's EPEI seems a long way off. Les Echos on Monday cited an unnamed source as saying a "last chance" meeting between the parties was slated for the next few days.

Representatives for Atos and the Kretinsky camp did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on the report.

Atos said on Monday that CEO Saleh will still focus on refinancing debt, the sale of the Tech Foundations business and the sale of the company's Big Data & Security (BDS) activities to Airbus.

($1 = 0.9119 euros)

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-GuptaEditing by Tassilo Hummel and David Goodman)