G4S soars as Canada's Garda World Security considers bid

LONDON (Reuters) - Canada’s Garda World Security said on Wednesday it was considering a cash offer for some or all of G4S, sending shares in the world’s largest listed security company up almost a third for their biggest daily gain in nearly two decades.

FILE PHOTO: A G4S security van is parked outside a bank in Loughborough, central England, August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

At Wednesday’s close, G4S shares were up about 20 percent at 215.35 pence, adding nearly half a billion pounds to its value and taking the British security firm’s market capitalization to about 3.4 billion pounds ($4.4 billion). The stock also hit a six month high of 241.8 pence.

An offer could mark a change of fortune for G4S, which is struggling to recover from a string of scandals, notably a failure in 2012 to provide enough guards for the London Olympic Games.

Only last week, the British government said it would permanently take over the running of a prison in Birmingham, central England, from G4S after inmate violence made the goal unmanageable.

The statement from privately-held Garda World came after London’s Evening Standard newspaper reported market talk of a potential bid.

“Garda World notes the recent market speculation in relation to G4S and confirms that it is in the preliminary stages of considering an approach to the board of G4S regarding a possible cash offer for the company, or a part thereof,” the Montreal-based firm said.

G4S, which has more than 500,000 employees across 90 countries, said it noted Garda World’s announcement and urged shareholders to take no action at this time, adding that there was no certainty that any firm offer would be made by Garda World.

G4S also reiterated that it had received interest from potential bidders for its cash business, which includes Cash 360 machines operated by retailers and a cash transportation business.

According to Garda World’s website, it also owns a cash solutions business, along with security services operations which include screening passengers at airports.

“Buying G4S would be a stretch as Garda World only has 2 billion pounds revenue (G4S: 7 billion pounds), but they are plausible contenders for Cash Solutions or perhaps a post-transaction G4S,” Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan; additional reporting by Sangameswaran S, John Benny and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Josephine Mason and Mark Potter