BC Partners Nears Deal to Buy Security-Services Company Garda World

Private-equity firm BC Partners is nearing a deal to buy a majority stake in Garda World Security Corp., the largest privately owned security-services company in the world.

The deal, expected to be announced as soon as Tuesday, values the Montreal-based company at around 5.2 billion Canadian dollars, or about US$4 billion, including debt. BC Partners will own a 51% stake in the company, while Stephan Crétier, the company’s founder and chief executive, will own the remaining 49% along with other members of its management team.

GardaWorld, as the company is known, offers cash-management services using armored trucks, cash vaults and the like. With 92,000 employees across 46 countries, it also provides security staffing and consulting for private companies, humanitarian organizations and government customers.

BC Partners will be GardaWorld’s third private-equity owner since Apax Partners LLP took it private in 2012. Apax sold its stake to Rhône Capital and management in 2017.

Mr. Crétier was introduced to BC Partners through a common acquaintance and didn’t conduct a formal auction.

“At the end of the day, he was the one really picking us,” Raymond Svider, chairman of BC Partners, said in an interview. “We try to connect culturally with entrepreneurs and founders.”

BC Partners plans to provide more capital to GardaWorld to help it expand its market share in the U.S.—where it is the fifth-largest player—and elsewhere. The market for security is still fragmented, so the strategy could involve add-on acquisitions, according to Paolo Notarnicola, who is responsible for BC Partners’ investments in the business services sector, as well as its investments in Canada.

With offices in London, New York, Hamburg and Paris, BC Partners manages more than €22 billion ($25 billion) in assets. It is known for deals including the 2012 acquisition of Suddenlink Communications, now owned by Altice USA Inc.; the 2015 buyout of PetSmart Inc. and a 2018 deal for Canadian waste-management company GFL Environmental Inc.

Mr. Crétier, the son of Swiss and Italian immigrants to Canada, founded GardaWorld in 1995 under the name Trans-Quebec Security Inc., with $25,000 he got from taking out a second mortgage on his house. The company changed its name to Trans-Canada Security Corp. in 1998 and went public on the Alberta Stock Exchange. In 1999, it bought Garda Security Group and changed its name again.

The company has been successful because it has expanded beyond the traditional limits of a private security company, Mr. Crétier said in an interview.

For example, GardaWorld persuaded the Canadian government to let it operate the country’s equivalent to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and got government contracts to provide security for diplomats from various nations around the world. It has a deal with

Bank of America
Corp.

to manage its biggest vaults and runs the 9-1-1 service throughout much of East Africa.

“It’s not just about winning market share, it’s about looking at a market and saying how can we make this our territory,” Mr. Crétier said. “I call it the ‘Dr. No’ strategy: It’s about world domination.”

Write to Miriam Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com

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