May 3, 2012 / 11:10 AM / in 6 years

INTERVIEW-G4S eyes Africa as resources sector booms

LONDON, May 3 (Reuters) - G4S is targeting a rising number of opportunities in Africa’s buoyant natural resources sector, as the world’s largest security company ramps up expansion in emerging markets to drive growth.

Africa’s growing number of multibillion dollar oil, gas and mining projects in countries such as Angola, Mozambique and Nigeria are at the heart of G4S’s plan to expand from its traditional manned security work toward risk assessments on new pipelines and refineries and protecting offshore rigs.

“In Africa we are moving towards delivery of much broader, integrated and sustainable security solutions to meet all the security risks facing major projects,” development director for oil and gas, Africa, Martin Fuller told Reuters.

“We want to be associated with the oil players and markets from a very early stage and to be a partner with them throughout their exploration and development, through to operational production stages.”

In March, G4S said it would return to targeting emerging markets, including Brazil, China and India, as it reset its sights following a failed 5.2 billion pound ($8.4 billion) takeover of Danish outsourcing firm ISS in 2011.

G4S, one of Africa’s largest private sector employers with over 100,000 staff, operates in 29 countries across the continent running embassies and armed response teams, as well as services such as cash security for banks and mine clearance.

While South Africa is its largest market, accounting for around 100 million pounds of Africa’s 500 million turnover, big resource projects elsewhere are offering faster-growth opportunities for lucrative multi-service deals as opposed to the region’s traditional single contract set-up.

G4S said it was looking at oil and gas based prospects in countries like Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and South Sudan, where a huge oil pipeline could be built through Kenya to a port there in order to bypass bitter disputes with neighbouring Sudan.

High potential mining opportunities are also in countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania.

The company expects to move into Ethiopia, Libya, Somaliland and South Sudan in the next year.

UK and Africa chief executive David Taylor Smith told Reuters G4S expected double0digit revenue growth in Africa this year, and to help drive future progress would also focus on winning work in the telecoms sector and with governmental organisations like embassies and the United Nations.

The group said it was in talks with a number of governments and large multi-national firms looking to put pan-regional security based deals in place.

Small bolt-on acquisitions were also on the agenda, Taylor Smith said: “We are interested in anything that takes us up in oil and gas, mining, or ports”, adding this could be in the form of physical security or consultancy capabilities.

The group is also looking to expand its remote camp facilities management business into Africa, having built and operated secure camps in Afghanistan and Iraq and provided services for the U.S. military.

Globally, G4S works in over 125 countries, running services such as prisons and cash transportation, as well as security for events like London’s 2012 Olympic Games.

Shares in the FTSE 100 group were flat at 1100 GMT, valuing the business at 3.9 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.6171 pound) (Editing by Dan Lalor)

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