Thursday, February 25

GardaWorld decides to turn the page on G4S

After months of arguing over security giant G4S with an American company that counts the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) among its main shareholders, GardaWorld has decided that the time has finally come to move on.

The Quebec company has decided that it will not increase its offer of 6.5 billion Canadian dollars for the multinational based in London, thus putting an end to an auction process which should in principle begin on Monday.

“GardaWorld remains without a doubt the best owner there can be for G4S, but we are disciplined buyers and we refuse to overpay for a company whose systemic issues face ESG criteria [environnement, société et gouvernance] keep coming to the surface, ”said its founder and President and CEO, Stéphan Crétier.

According to the Quebec businessman, there are “more advantageous and less risky” opportunities for his business.

GardaWorld and Allied Universal should in principle present their best offer for G4S to the UK authorities. The proposal of 245 pence per share, valued in all at about 6.7 billion Canadian dollars, of the American company, which had been accepted by the board of directors of the British firm, is now the only one on the table.

Mr. Crétier was not available for interviews, said a spokesperson for the company, Isabelle Panelli.

In a telephone interview, Tyler Tebbs, an analyst based in London for the firm Louis Capital, explained that he was surprised at GardaWorld’s decision to withdraw in this way.

“I expected the company to raise the auction to around 250 pence,” he said. At this point, this case is over. “

GardaWorld decided to make a hostile bid for G4S last September, after seeing the London-based company’s board of directors push back its advances three times over the summer. Allied pulled the rug out from under him last December with his $ 6.7 billion offer.

But since investors are slow to deposit their shares in the hope that the auction will rise, regulatory authorities have decided to oversee the process.

CDPQ is Allied’s second largest shareholder with an approximate 35% stake. Mr. Crétier had criticized the Caisse for putting sticks in his wheels by being at the side of a company which coveted the same company as him.

Combining their businesses, Allied and G4S would have some 750,000 employees in 80 countries and generate annual revenues of US $ 18 billion. By comparison, GardaWorld employs 102,000 people in North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For the professor of strategy at HEC Montreal Louis Hébert, all is not lost for Mr. Crétier’s company, given the price paid by Allied.

“Garda must take advantage of the window that opens in front of her in the next 18 to 24 months,” he said in an interview. Because G4S and Allied may be busy with the integration. There is a correction to be made. This is where Garda can take advantage of this to make money by snatching customers and even buying smaller players who can be interesting. “

As of December 31, the CDPQ valued its investment in Allied Universal at over $ 1.5 billion, according to information in its most recent annual report.

Since 2019, BC Partners, based in London, has been the largest shareholder in the Quebec company after reaching a $ 5.2 billion deal in exchange for a 51% stake. Mr. Crétier holds a 43% stake, while the remainder belongs to other executives of the company.

On the London Stock Exchange on Monday, the title of G4S closed at 242 pence, down about 9.8%. The stock had climbed to around 270 pence last week as investors expected to deposit bonus offers.

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