Belfast Telegraph

G4S up to speed as Olympics loom over the horizon

Companies needing more protection in tough and uncertain times have given a boost to security giant G4S, the firm that will help guard next year's Olympic Games.

Revenues at the firm jumped by 5% to £3.76bn in the first six months of 2011 and demand is increasing in most areas, it said, with a pipeline of UK Government work.

G4S has a strong presence in Northern Ireland, employing 1,300 and entering the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies list in 2011.

After the recent riots in Britain, the UK's prison population is at record levels and the group, which already runs four prisons and handles electronic tagging for 12,000 people, welcomed the Government's recent plans for more private sector involvement in the treatment of offenders.

More outsourcing both from governments and financial institutions is "very firmly" on the agenda, it added.

The group's £100m Olympics contract will see it recruit and train 10,000 security guards to work alongside the police and local authorities to oversee security at both the Olympics and Paralympic events.

G4S's UK and Ireland arm, which already employs 40,000 staff from over 80 offices, increased revenues by 6% to £612m in the latest half year despite the loss of its UK Border Agency contract and lower sales in Ireland. Profits rose by 11% to £50m as margins improved.

Chief executive Nick Buckles has earmarked £200m to spend on acquisitions to boost growth, with at least half of that money going on new markets.

Security revenues in these areas, which include Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq, rose by 9% despite the unrest in the region, with profits up by 11%.

"We have a strong pipeline of merger and acquisition opportunities which should come to fruition within the next six to 12 months. This pipeline gives us confidence in the outlook for the full year and into 2012. That confidence is reflected in the 8% increase in our interim dividend," Mr Buckles added.