US firm Allied Universal Security Services has gatecrashed GardaWorld's hostile bid for British security company G4S.
G4S confirmed that Allied Universal had made an approached that could lead to an offer which might see off GardaWorld’s 190p-a-share bid, which values the company at £3bn.
G4S added that there "can be no certainty that an offer will be made by Allied Universal, nor as to the terms on which any such offer might be made".
The company has repeatedly dismissed the approach from its smaller rival GardaWorld as “opportunistic” and “significantly undervaluing” the FTSE 250 company. It has advised shareholders to take no action.
Major investors Schroders, Harris Associates and Sachem Head who between them control a quarter of G4S’s shares have said the 190p offer does not reflect the company’s value. Schroders added that it was “open to a deal at a fair price”.
No details were given about Allied’s proposal, though G4S is reported to have been seeking competing offers from industry peers.
This could indicate that G4S is open to sale to a “white knight” bidder at a better price.
Shares in G4S rose more than 5pc to 211.9p on news of the bid, taking them close to levels they were trading at before coronavirus hit. At the height of the pandemic they fell as low as 69p.
GardaWorld and G4S are involved in an increasingly bitter battle of words as the takeover progresses.
The hostile bidder has attacked G4S management for “mis-steps” that have resulted in what it claims is £1bn of value destruction, as well as disposals at “knockdown” prices. It also claims G4S faces as much as £1.6bn in bills from legal claims and has a £2.7bn pension deficit.
G4S has dismissed the attacks as unfounded, and labelled GardaWorld, of Canada, as a “regional company in need of a transformative acquisition”.
Allied Universal’s approach could flush out further bidders, with private equity buyers understood to be mulling approaches.
Allied Universal could not be reached for comment.