(Bloomberg) -- The logic-defying swings in shares of Atos SE suggest Paris is experiencing a slice of the meme-stock craze seen in the US.

Analysts have warned that shares of the struggling French technology company could become almost worthless following a restructuring. But Atos stock has defied that assessment. 

After closing at a record low on June 13, Atos more than doubled in the following four sessions. On Thursday, it surged as much as 46%, triggering multiple trading halts, before giving up much of those gains. Atos is the most discussed stock on Boursorama.com, an investor forum owned by Societe Generale that’s popular among French retail traders.

“In a word, this move is ‘insanity,’” said Neil Campling, founding partner at Chameleon Global Capital. “The company’s own statement basically said equity was near enough worthless.”

Atos, loaded with close to €5 billion ($5.4 billion) in debt, has been under a restructuring process with creditors and banks to try to avoid bankruptcy. Earlier this month, the company chose a bailout proposal from a group led by David Layani’s Onepoint, its top shareholder.

The rescue plan would involve issuing new shares to reduce debt, a move that will result in a “massive dilution” of current stockholders, the company had warned. Morgan Stanley analysts estimated that the stock would be worth €0.01 in a base-case scenario.

With about two hours left of Thursday’s session, about 26 million Atos shares had already changed hands. It’s set to be the biggest single-day volume for the stock in at least two decades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 19.6 million shares traded on Wednesday.

Part of the stubborn resurgence in the stock is down to short sellers taking profit on bets that Atos would slump. A market mechanism requiring short sellers to return the shares to the holders who loaned them out — by buying stock in the market — is also a factor, according to traders.

Short sellers have been steadily paring bearish bets on Atos. Shares out on loan represented about 15% of the stock’s free float as of Tuesday, down from a peak of 36% in March, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

And then there are the retail investors, apparently taking on the short sellers in a French version of the frenzy over shares in GameStop Corp., which has been powered higher by a cohort of buyers responding to the musings of social media personalities.

But unlike the case with GameStop, which inflicted heavy pain on some short sellers, the surge in Atos shares probably won’t hurt those using the strategy in the French firm’s stock as much. 

That’s because large short positions in Atos were established when the price was much higher, said Ivan Cosovic, founder of data tracking firm Breakout Point in Dusseldorf, Germany. The stock has fallen 70% this year and is down 86% from a 2023 peak.

“Even with the recent dramatic rebound of almost 300% from its June lows, big shorts holders might not be feeling significant pressure,” Cosovic said in an email.

Atos didn’t immediately reply to Bloomberg’s emailed request for comment.

--With assistance from Alexandra Muller.

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