Securitas to overhaul PR with Smithfield hire

Securitas, the world’s largest security company, has revamped its UK financial comms as the global security sector consolidates with the appointment of Smithfield Financial as its first retained PR adviser in London.

Smithfield MD Andrew Hey is leading the account and reports to Securitas IR senior V-P Henrik Brehmer.

Brehmer said that Smithfield would be concerned primarily with relations with the UK business press and analysts following Securitas, but the firm would continue to handle most senior-level contact with financial firms.

Securitas, which floated on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1991, has touted its strategic model to investors as one which ‘leverages its expertise through tactical acquisitions when the right opportunities arise’. Last month it announced that it was buying French security systems company Eurotelis and Bell Group, a security systems provider to the UK and Irish banking sectors.

The planned £100m cash acquisition of Bell Group prompted credit rating agency Moody’s Investor Service to put Securitas’s Baa1 debt rating under review for a possible downgrade.

Moody’s was concerned about the performance of Bell Group’s US operations and the falling profitability of its ID business, which made £5.9m in 2002 compared with £5m last year.

Taking on board Bell Group and other acquisitions might make it difficult for Securitas to achieve the debt protection measurements that have earned it a Baa1 rating.

Securitas’s financial communications drive comes less than two weeks before the European Commission is to decide on the planned merger of the world’s second largest security company Group 4 Falck with the UK’s Securicor. The merger would create a £1.5bn rival to Securitas.

Brunswick is advising Group 4, while Securicor is using retained adviser Citigate Dewe Rogerson on the deal (PRWeek, 6 February).

The commission is due to make a decision on the merger on 28 May.

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