Group 4 sells cash transport business

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GROUP 4 Securitas, the first private company in the UK to run a prison and escort remand prisoners to court, has swapped armoured cars for security guards because it no longer wants to transport cash in England and Wales.

Pressure from the banks on profit margins lay behind the sale of its Cash-in-Transit operations to Mayne Nickless, the Australian transport, freight and security company, for an undisclosed sum.

In a reciprocal deal, it has bought Security Express Guards - which operates in the UK - from Mayne Nickless. Again, terms were not disclosed although Group 4 will receive some cash in the deal.

The 2,000 guards working at Security Express will join Group 4's Total Security arm, which provides dedicated guarding services and mobile patrols.

Jorgen Philip-Sorensen, chairman and owner of Group 4, said it wanted to concentrate on its core businesses. The deal would establish Total Security as the leader in the UK guarding market, he said.

Before the acquisition, Total Security's turnover of pounds 85m accounted for some 55 per cent of Group 4's UK turnover.

Mayne Nickless is represented in the UK through its Security Express and Armaguard businesses. Analysts said it had been seeking an acquisition here for some time.

Bill Bytheway, managing director, agreed that it aimed to develop its profitable armoured transport and security alarms activities. 'It was fortunate that Group 4 decided to focus on their guarding operations and . . . a reciprocal arrangement became mutually advantageous.'

Group 4 and Mayne Nickless do not expect a referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.