G4S suitor seeks talks with Sharma over 'long-term' UK pledges

September 21, 2020

The Canadian security group which is mounting a hostile takeover bid for G4S, its larger UK rival, has asked for a meeting with ministers as it seeks to convince the government of its "long-term" commitment to the UK.

Sky News understands that GardaWorld, which is backed by the private equity firm BC Partners, has written to Alok Sharma, the business secretary, to open a dialogue about its £3bn approach.

People close to the situation said that GardaWorld had not raised the prospect of binding pledges about jobs at one of the UK's biggest private sector employees, but said these were likely to form part of discussions with the government if its offer progressed.

One person who has seen GardaWorld's letter to Mr Sharma said it sought to highlight the company's "long-term" commitment to doing business in Britain.

GardaWorld went public with its bid for G4S - the second time it has expressed an interest in buying the British company in less than 18 months - last week, after seeing three indicative offers spurned by the target's board.

The latest, pitched at 190p-per-share, has seen a number of large G4S shareholders endorse the decision to reject the offers but leave the door open to a higher bid.

A takeover of the support services company, which was among the outsourcing groups to have undertaken work on the government's makeshift Nightingale hospitals set up during the coronavirus pandemic, would attract scrutiny from the Cabinet Office - a major G4S client.

GardaWorld has already pitched an unusually aggressive tone in its public statements, questioning the remuneration of Ashley Almanza, G4S's chief executive, and the stewardship of its vast pension scheme.

"G4S needs an owner, not a manager," Stéphan Crétier, GardaWorld chief executive, said last week.

"GardaWorld has 25 years of experience in the sector and we know how to improve and repurpose this business."

A GardaWorld spokesman said: "We have a number of contracts with government departments and wrote to them out of courtesy when our possible offer was announced."

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