Garda World ready to ramp up £3.8bn fight for G4S

The bidding war for security giant G4S reignited yesterday as brokers predicted Garda World would outbid the £3.8billion offer from US rival Allied Universal.

On Tuesday the board of G4S announced they had agreed a 245p-per-share offer for the company, adding they would recommend it to shareholders.

But within 24 hours, the race was restarted as Garda made a formal announcement to the market to say its latest 235p-per-share offer was not final, as previously stated.

On Tuesday the board of G4S announced they had agreed a 245p-per-share offer for the company, adding they would recommend it to shareholders

The Canadian firm’s founder Stephan Cretier has staked his reputation on the deal, saying it is a necessary stepping stone in his dream to create a global security giant.

Garda said yesterday: ‘Garda World is considering its options and a further announcement will be made when appropriate. G4S shareholders are strongly advised to take no action at this time.’

The move gives it space to increase its bid, which would be the fourth time since June it has done so. Analysts believe the small margin between the two bids makes another increase likely, and yesterday shares in G4S rose to 256p as markets pre-empted further developments.

Robert Plant, at broker Panmure Gordon, said: ‘Our sense from reading all of Garda’s documentation in recent months is that it strongly wants to acquire G4S.

‘A further bid from Garda could maybe prompt a raised offer from Allied.’

But others suggested Garda could be restricted by the strength of its balance sheet, and its ability to finance the deal.

If shareholders accept Allied’s bid, it will create a global giant with 750,000 staff and annual revenues of £13.4billion. G4S chief executive Ashley Almanza, 56, and chairman John Connolly, 70, would scoop an estimated £7million between them.

The bidding war has prompted a remarkable recovery in the share price, which was 70p in April. It has gained 365 per cent in eight months.

The hostile takeover fight started in September and has been one of the most acrimonious bid battles this year.

Garda accused G4S bosses of destroying its value and reputation, while G4S said Garda was too small to be a global player.

City watchers think Garda’s conduct makes it less likely that shareholders will back them.

G4S is the latest British firm with a bombed-out share price to fall into foreign hands, with bookie William Hill and RSA Insurance having been snapped up by overseas rivals recently.