French IT services firm Atos has planned to distribute 23.4% of shares in its listed subsidiary Worldline to its shareholders.

At present, Atos owns a stake of 50.8% in Worldline. The latest move is expected to raise the free float of Worldline to nearly 45.7% from 22.3%.

Atos said that the increased free float would offer Worldline a strenthened equity capital markets profile. The move is also said to enhance Worldline’s strategic flexibility.

Atos chairman and CEO Thierry Breton said: “The project to distribute 23.4% of Worldline’s share capital to Atos shareholders will create two pure play global leaders with increased strategic and financial flexibility.”

The proposal will be submitted to Atos investors at the firm’s upcoming annual general meeting. The meeting is scheduled to take place on 30 April 2019.

The decision was welcomed by Worldline’s board of directors.

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Commenting on the decision, the Worldline board said: “The proposed distribution would increase Worldline’s strategic flexibility, a very positive development for Worldline allowing the Group to reaffirm its successful strategy and confirm its ability to act as a key player in the consolidation of the European payment market.

“The contemplated project would also lead to a greater free float and increased visibility of Worldline stock, providing investors with an enhanced opportunity to invest in Worldline.”