Securitas to Spin off Three Divisions

Securitas, the world's largest provider of security services, said Thursday that it planned to spin off the burglar alarm and armored car units that account for almost one-third of its sales.

Securitas, whose staff guards Westminster Abbey in London and Yankee Stadium in New York, will concentrate on supplying personnel. The company also said that fourth-quarter profit had risen 8 percent to 754 million kronor, or $98 million.

The company, which is based in Stockholm, will spin off three divisions: the armored car unit, Loomis Cash Handling; the burglar alarm unit, Securitas Direct; and the commercial alarm division, Securitas Systems. That will leave Securitas itself, which will supply security guards.

The chief executive, Thomas Berglund, said that the three units to be spun off had sufficient size and expertise to perform better as independent companies than in a large group. What remains of Securitas will seek to tap emerging markets like India, which Berglund said he hoped to enter this year.

In Stockholm, shares of Securitas rose 14.50 kronor to close at 146.50 kronor.

Investors are betting that the four companies to be created from the split will be worth more as separate entities and may be attractive takeover targets.

''This will crystallize values in the individual companies and there's a big appetite among private equity to expand in support services,'' said Torben Sand, an analyst at Handelsbanken Capital Markets in Copenhagen. ''That makes it more likely we'll get at least one buyout.''

Securitas will hold a meeting of investors Sept. 25 to seek approval for the spin-off strategy. The three new companies and the scaled-down Securitas would be listed in Stockholm, with investors given a share in each for every one previously held in the former parent.

Berglund said that the decision to split the company, which began as a family business in 1934 and today has sales of 66 billion kronor and 200,000 employees in 20 countries, reflected an increase in demand for more specialized security services from a client base that ranged from multinational companies like Pfizer to government agencies and homeowners.

''Customers in the petrochemicals industry and in a shopping mall need very different things,'' he said. ''Twenty years ago, people talked about multi services. Today it's obvious that doesn't work, and we intend to stay ahead.''

The move by Securitas comes a day after Rentokil Initial, the world's largest pest-control company, said that it planned to sell its security guard business to focus on more profitable activities.

Analysts said Securitas was a potential buyer for the unit, which operates in Britain, Belgium and North America.


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