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G4S spots great opportunities for security work in the new Libya

G4S targets training Libyan police and protecting oil supplies

G4S, the security company that employs more than 600,000 people worldwide protecting everything from airports to rock stars, is hoping it will be able to pick up more work in a post-Gaddafi Libya.

Nick Buckles, chief executive of the FTSE 100 company, said he was eyeing up opportunities to train Libyan police and protect the country’s oil and gas assets.

Buckles, whose staff helped protect rapper and R&B artist Rihanna at the V festival last weekend, said the company had already benefited from the unrest in north Africa and the Middle East, with particularly strong growth in Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. It achieved organic growth of 9% in its “new markets” division.

“Any country going through reconstruction and increase security [is a new growth market],” Buckles said. “We hope to play a role in helping them [the Libyan National Transitional Council] in the vital work ensuring the people are safe.”

The group provides security for infrastructure, such as oil and gas pipelines, “in numerous countries, and can certainly do it in Libya”, he said. If G4S wins a contract in Libya it will be the first time the company, which traces its roots back to 1901, has operated in the north African country. G4S, which was the biggest riser in the FTSE 100 on Tuesday , was also boosted by the extension of a contract to protect the US embassy in Afghanistan until the end of next year.

Buckles said G4S will spend more than half of its £200m war chest in developing countries this year and hopes that emerging markets will provide at least half of its turnover by 2018. “We have a strong pipeline of mergers and acquisition opportunities which should come to fruition within the next six to 12 months,” Buckles said.

Brazil, India, China, Ecuador, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea are the company’s core target areas. Buckles said that Brazil, which has the seventh-highest murder rate in the world, will become a very important part of the company’s operation. “It is a very large security market, accounting for more than half of the whole Latin American market,” he said. “The 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will also provide a short term boost.”

The company, which is Europe’s largest private sector employee, reported flat half-year pre-tax profits of £195m on revenue of £3.76bn.

In the UK and Ireland, where G4S employs 40,000 in more than 80 offices, sales jumped by 6% to £612m. The company has won a £100m contract to train 10,000 security guards for the London Olympics and expects to benefit from the government’s increased outsourcing of prisons and offender management.

Buckles said G4S, which already runs four of Britain’s prisons and handles the electronic tagging of 12,000 people, is bidding on contracts to run another eight British prisons. He said the company had shown that it can cut the cost of running public services by up to 20% by improving efficiency.

However, last year the company lost a £30m contract for deporting detainees after three G4S guards were arrested in connection with the death of an Angolan man.

The shares closed up 20.8p to 264.4p. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds