UK: Security group G4S rejects ‘ opportunistic’ Charterhouse bid for cash handling business

A G4S cash handler.
Photo: VisMedia

A G4S cash handler. Photo: VisMedia - Credit: VisMedia

Security services group G4S said today it had rejected an “opportunistic” £1.55billion bid for its cash transportation business.

The FTSE 100 group company the offer from private equity firm Charterhouse Capital fundamentally undervalued the business.

G4S has been under the spotlight recently over a Government probe into outsourcing contracts. It is said to have been under pressure from activist investors to dispose of the cash solutions arm in order to streamline its operations.

But executives insisted that the division, which transports money to ATM machines in high security vans, was key to its plans.

Charterhouse, which bid for the business, already owns high street retailer Card Factory as well as parts of AA and Saga.

Disclosing details of the offer, G4S said: “The board consider the group’s cash solutions services to be core to G4S’ operations and strategic plans.

“The board regards the nature and timing of the approach to be highly opportunistic and, following due consideration, with the assistance of financial advisers, the offer has been firmly rejected considering the strategic importance of the cash solutions businesses to G4S and because the board believes the conditional offer fundamentally undervalues the business and its prospects.”

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G4S highlighted the strength of a business which has seen stable cash usage through economic downturn, and where circulation grew strongly from 2007 to 2011. It said it was among the top two operators in the majority of the 66 markets where it operated.

Turnover for the division grew 3% to £1.29bn in 2012 though it declined slightly in Europe, its biggest market, by 0.6%, to £785million.

G4S is the largest employer on the London Stock Exchange, with operations in more than 120 countries and over 620,000 employees. Other services include the electronic monitoring of offenders and the management of adult and juvenile custody centres.

The rejected offer comes days after G4S announced that its UK chief executive Richard Morris had resigned and been replaced by chief operating officer Eddie Aston.

The group is trying to recover from a series of damaging setbacks including a scandal over the way it charged for tagging criminals on behalf of the Government, and the botched handling of its Olympics security contract.