Rifkind group makes $100m from Iraq security contracts

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The Independent Online

Armor Group, the provider of guards for dangerous places, saw its revenues almost double last year as demand for its services in Iraq surged.

Armor Group, the provider of guards for dangerous places, saw its revenues almost double last year as demand for its services in Iraq surged.

The company's revenues for 2004 will be $193m (£103m), it said in a trading update yesterday - a 93 per cent rise on the previous year.

Of the 2004 revenues, about $100m will come from Iraq, where Armor employs 1,300 - mostly armed - people who provide security, training and mines clearance. Six of its employees were killed in Iraq last year, three from attacks by insurgents and the rest in accidents.

Armor, which listed on the London Stock Exchange last December, works for contractors undertaking reconstruction work in Iraq, such as Bechtel and Halliburton, and also the US and British governments.

All the projects so far have been funded from foreign sources but Armor's finance director, David Seaton, said it was "well placed" to work directly for new Iraqi government after Sunday's elections.

He said even if there had been no work for Armor in Iraq last year, it would still have seen "healthy" revenues growth but with less-spectacular figures.

Armor, which is chaired by the Tory grandee Sir Malcolm Rifkind and headquartered in London, said underlying earnings for 2004 would be at least $19.5m. It refused to say how much of this came from its Iraqi business. Armor says its personnel provide "defensive" not "offensive" services.

Jerry Hoffman, the chief executive, said: "The international protective security market is growing fast and should see sustained growth and new opportunities for the foreseeable future. Armor Group is well positioned in the market to capitalise on these opportunities and we are confident and excited about the group's prospects going into 2005."

Armor has 7,600 employeesin 26 countries. Mr Seaton said revenues from Iraq this year could rise but the proportion of its business coming from the country should decline by at least 10 per cent. He said there were growth opportunities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and North America.

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