Securicor is to take a £35m write-off on its security business in American airports after the US government in effect nationalised airport screening services following the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
Securicor is winding down its Argenbright aviation passenger security division which has about 40 per cent of the US market. Two of the hijacked planes used in the terrorist attacks took off from Newark and Dulles International airports, where Argenbright provided security.
In response to concerns about airport safety, the US government approved legislation in mid-November ordering a government takeover of aviation security within a year. Securicor is taking legal advice on the possibility of compensation for the loss of the business.
Securicor also has 6,000 staff in the screening division and it is unclear how many will be taken on by the government. The company said the rest of Argenbright, which provides guarding services, is performing soundly.
Securicor yesterday reported losses of £22m for the year to September following £42m of losses on the sale of its US telecoms and e-commerce interests. Shares in the company rose 4p to 107p.