A US-based cash-handling giant is plotting a £1bn-plus takeover of a division of G4S, the FTSE-250 support services group that is the world’s biggest security company.
Sky News has learnt that The Brink’s Company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is among the parties which have approached G4S about acquiring its Cash Solutions arm.
Sources said that Brink’s was in talks with G4S and its advisers about a deal, but cautioned that other prospective bidders had also expressed an interest.
Brink’s, which has a market value of $3.66bn (£2.98bn), is one of the most prominent players in the global security industry.
It is best-known in Britain for the theft at the Brink’s-Mat security depot near Heathrow airport in November 1983 which saw £26m of gold bullion stolen in what remains the country’s biggest armed robbery.
Brink’s was founded in Chicago in 1859 by Perry Brink, who used a horse-drawn wagon to make the company’s inaugural delivery.
During the last 160 years, it has grown into the world’s biggest cash-handling group, employing more than 62,000 people and operating in more than 40 countries.
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Its interest in the G4S division, which the London-listed company has signalled its intention to demerge into a separately listed company next year, is unsurprising given the strategic fit between them.
Analysts have also cited Spain’s Prosegur as a potential bidder for the G4S business.
Some analysts have suggested the unit could be worth between £1.5bn and £2bn, although a valuation of just over £1bn is likely to be more realistic.
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In its half-year results last month, G4S said it had received approaches from third parties about a deal.
“The company has actively engaged with these parties and the board will continue to evaluate proposals for all or parts of the business alongside the implementation of our demerger plans,” it added.
G4S’s Cash Solutions unit employs about 32,000 people – or about 6% of its global workforce.
The division accounted for roughly 15% of group revenues last year, and approximately 23% of earnings before interest, tax and amortisation.
Analysts have identified the area of the business which handles and processes cash for retailers as having significant growth potential.
Its largest contract is with Walmart, the owner of the UK supermarket chain Asda, in the US.
Bankers at Citi and JP Morgan are advising G4S on the demerger and approaches from potential buyers.
The plan to separate its cash and security operations will, according to G4S’s board, allow each company to focus on their respective financial and strategic priorities.
By far the bigger part of the company, which lost its FTSE-100 status four years ago, provides security systems for buildings and runs prisons and detention centres.
It has been a difficult decade for the company, which found itself under fire for failing to provide sufficient security staff at the London Olympics in 2012.
The following year, the company became the target of a probe by the Serious Fraud Office over the tagging of convicts.
That investigation remains ongoing, although fellow outsourcer Serco, which was involved in a similar SFO case, recently agreed to pay a £19m fine to settle with authorities.
G4S’s reputation was also hit by the Ministry of Justice’s decision in April to strip it of its contract to run Birmingham Prison after inspectors said it was in a “state of crisis”.
Brink’s did not respond to a request for comment, while G4S declined to comment.