Posts Tagged Gardaworld

Industry Talk: GardaWorld Buys Aegis Group For Expansion Into Africa And ME

This is some big news. Both GardaWorld and Aegis are big companies, and this is more sign of consolidation in the industry as the market compresses. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have drawn down significantly since the hey day of contracting, and moves like this signal the latest strategies of the major companies–if they want to survive.

I first found out about Aegis shopping around for buyers from Intelligence Online. It has a paywall, but what little they said in the brief description is all I needed to know. As for GardaWorld, here is a snap shot from Wikipedia as to their size and status. Pretty big..

GardaWorld Security Corporation is a Canadian private security firm, based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with 45,000 employees (by November 2013). Though GardaWorld International Protective Services, now the international division of the company, began its operations in 1984, Garda World Security Corporation was established by its Quebecer owner Stéphan Crétier in 1995, who initially invested $25,000 in the company, then named Trans-Quebec Security Inc. The company is the fifth largest consulting and security services firm in the world, with operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The company today runs heavily on physical security guard services as well as armoured car services in select countries and cities throughout the world. The firm has over 200 offices worldwide.

And then here is the size of Aegis and what they do, based on their Who We Are page on their site. The CEO is Tim Spicer by the way, who used to own Sandline International.

Aegis is today a diverse and comprehensive organisation operating in countries spread across several continents in a variety of service streams.
Founded in 2002, Aegis was established as a US government security provider from 2004, when it was awarded the ground-breaking Reconstruction Security Support Services Iraq (RSSS-I) contract with the US Department of Defense. The $1.3 billion lifetime value of this contract made it one of the largest security contracts ever awarded.
The experience and ethos built during the RSSS-I contract, and a range of other government and commercial contracts in Iraq, allowed Aegis to transition to the Security Support Services Iraq (SSS-I) contract, and to secure and successfully mobilise the security for the US Embassy Kabul, a project which currently employs over 1000 people.
The definition and requirements of security are ever changing. In recent years, we have grown a successful security service business in support of the extractives industry, focused initially on the Oil and Gas sectors in Iraq, but expanding into East and North Africa. We have also been in the vanguard of developing comprehensive business practices and ethical codes of conduct for the security industry and as such we are one of the first companies to become accredited to the industry standard (PSC 1).
Aegis now provides a wide breadth of complementary service streams including Kidnap for Ransom Response, technology integration, advisory and intelligence, training, consultancy, strategic communications and protective services. Across these areas we employ over 3500 people at any one time and run a fleet of over 300 vehicles.

That is 48,500 plus or minus employees and contractors!… Quite the army. lol

As to the details of this acquisition, I will post what the companies have sent out for PR. The news release mentioned a couple of interesting things. First is the fact that both companies are the first to be PSC-1 certified. The second interesting tidbit is that the new company wants to hit the African and Middle Eastern markets hard with their services. Aegis will definitely bring a lot to the table when it comes to those regions.

I have written in the past about GardaWorld and their goals in the middle east, and I view this as further proof of those plans drawn up by CEO Stephan Crétier. Although they have had some hiccups and the whole Daniel Menard episode in Afghanistan was one example. I also found an article that talked about how the draw down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fierce competition between those that were still on the scene, has resulted in companies like GardaWorld to ‘be competitive’. In other words, lowering salaries and hiring cheaper labor–something we have seen in the maritime security market as well. 

One final note. I have no idea if everyone that is working for Aegis now, will have to change t-shirts and wear the GardaWorld crest?…  Or if all the benefits and pay scales will change, now that Aegis has a new owner. We will see how that goes and that process can be kind of crappy for the employees and contractors of said company.

Sometimes with these things, the parent company likes to keep the newly acquired company intact with the same name and everything. Just different owners with a little crossover of upper and mid- management. But who knows, and we will see how the acquisition goes? I will leave it to those employees, contractors, upper management, etc. in the comments below to explain how things are going. –Matt

 

 

GardaWorld Announces Strategic Expansion to Become the Premier Security Provider in Africa and the Middle East

As part of its expansion, the company signs a binding agreement for the acquisition of Aegis Group

MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(July 13, 2015) – GardaWorld, the world’s largest privately owned security and cash services provider, announces today the strategic expansion of its protective services platform in Africa and the Middle East.

Over the past decade GardaWorld has continuously expanded its operational capacity as demand for specialized and professional services to protect high profile diplomatic staff, development projects and leading oil & gas companies dramatically increased in Africa and the Middle East. In the current geopolitical context, such comprehensive security services offering remains critical for companies and governments operating in the region and GardaWorld has committed to become a premier security provider globally. The company expects to complete this phase of its strategic expansion plan before the end of the year.

As the first phase of its strategic expansion, GardaWorld is pleased to announce that it has entered into a binding agreement for the acquisition of Aegis Group, a leading provider of highly specialized protective services with annual run-rate revenues of over CAN$450 million with a presence across 10 African and Middle East emerging markets.

“Aegis Group’s operational platform will complement GardaWorld’s offering and geographic footprint as we continue to build our protective services capabilities throughout Africa and the Middle East,” said Stephan Crétier, Founding President and CEO, GardaWorld. “Aegis Group and GardaWorld have both been truly committed to setting the highest professional and ethical standards in the industry. We are the first two private security providers in the world to obtain the PSC.1 certification, offering our clients a complete peace of mind service solution in emerging markets. Once we have completed the integration, we will become a clear market leader, providing premier professional security services with the unsurpassed depth of our offering and strength of our global platform.”

“In the next phase of our growth strategy, planned for later this year, we expect to further expand GardaWorld’s regional infrastructure and to double our physical footprint by reinforcing our presence on the ground in nearly 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Our goal is to offer a specialized and distinctive protective services offering, to more clients, including governments, diplomatic organizations, large critical infrastructures, mining, oil & gas companies, NGOs and Fortune 500 corporates, in more places and where they need us most than any other company in our market,” continued Mr. Crétier.

GardaWorld’s acquisition of Aegis Group is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and is expected to close within the next 90 days.

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Legal News: GardaWorld’s Daniel Ménard Thrown In Afghan Jail

This is an interesting one that just popped up on my radar. I found it yesterday and posted it on Facebook, and I received multiple viewpoints on what is going on. Everything from it is all GardaWorld’s fault and Ménard is incompetent, to Gardaworld and Ménard is yet another victim of the Afghan legal system and corrupt officials.

For this deal, I was instantly reminded by the readership, as well as personally recalling all of Afghanistan’s past legal shenanigans.  Doug mentioned the Bill Shaw story where he was thrown in an Afghan jail on false bribery charges. Trevor mentioned the other GardaWorld story of some contractors that got arrested because they had 30 AK’s on them. Funny that, contractors with guns in a war zone? Of course this story was related to the APPF scheme of seizing the weapons of companies–without paying those companies for said weapons.

Another story mentioned was the arrest of Michael Hearn of Global Strategies Group for not registering their weapons. Those weapons according to the company, were parts guns that were not serviceable, used to repair other AKs.  I am sure there are other incidents that I am forgetting, but you get the idea. Kimberly Motley could probably add something to this conversation because of her extensive dealings with the Afghan legal system.

Some other stories of contractors wrongly thrown in Afghan jails include guys like Phillip Young, who thanks to Kimberly’s work, was set free. Another guy I have written about in the past was Robert Langdon, whom is still rotting away in prison.

The other interesting point on this story is Ménard’s  background. Michael Yon was highly critical of this leader back when he was a general in the Canadian Arm Forces posted in Afghanistan.  But even Michael’s current tone is one of being skeptical as to why he is in an Afghan jail.

I imagine the way this will work out is that he will stay in prison until the company or his family pays the fine. Hopefully he doesn’t stay in prison as long as Bill Shaw. Bill spent two years at Pul-e-Charkhi prison and was fined £16,185! Kimberly was also hot on this case and was instrumental in getting him released. –Matt

Edit: 02/19/2014- Daniel was released from detention. Story here.

 

 

 

Former Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard, the former head of Canadian forces in Afghanistan who now works for private security firm GardaWorld, was detained there since about Jan. 12.
By Allan Woods
Jan 29 2014
Former Canadian brigadier-general Daniel Ménard, who was fined and demoted for having a sexual relationship with a female subordinate, has been sitting in an Afghan jail for nearly three weeks, the Toronto Star has learned.
The former head of Canadian forces in the country, who now works for private security firm GardaWorld, was detained on or about Jan. 12. He was picked up by local authorities after leaving a meeting with Afghan government officials to discuss issues related to the development of Afghan security forces, Joe Gavaghan, a spokesman for the company, said in an interview Wednesday.
“He was leaving a meeting at the ministry office and a couple of officials approached him. They said, ‘We’ve got a problem with something and we’d like you to come with us to clear it up.’ Off he went and the next thing he knew he was going to be detained until they cleared it up.”
Ménard has not been charged with breaking any laws, Gavaghan said, adding the incident is based on an “administrative misunderstanding” related to its licence to operate in Afghanistan as a private security firm.
Gavaghan said the former commander of the 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, based out of CFB Valcartier, appeared in a Kabul court Wednesday.
“This involves some kind of administrative issue with our operating licence. It was kind of a technicality. It’s been cleared up and we believe that the individual is going to be released very shortly,” Gavaghan said.
“Right now we’re just trying to do everything we can to make sure there’s no further complications or anything that would delay that.”

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Company Spotlight: CEO Stephan Crétier Talks About Garda And Role In Middle East

This is cool. The CEO of Garda was interviewed recently and it is neat to hear about some of the inner workings of Garda and their strategy in the market.

From what he said, they are trying to become the Walmart of private security. Interesting, but I think G4S has them beat there. lol But still, I think what is really cool here is that Garda became successful despite being in a hard place to do business.  It sounds like Quebec is a tough town in that regard, and for a private security company to excel is really unique.

I also perked up on his comment about their entry into Iraq. Here is the quote:

Q: Why the Middle East, given that it’s so fraught with danger and potential PR disasters?
A: You’re right, but at the same time you can have a PR disaster at Toronto Pearson, you can have a PR disaster in the shooting of armoured trucks. We’ve been extremely selective. People say, well, you’re just another Blackwater. But companies like Blackwater and Triple Canopy work as subcontractors to the U.S. government and army. We don’t. We work for NGOs in dangerous areas—oil and gas companies, reconstruction companies. We don’t work in war zones. When Iraq was at war, we weren’t there. We were in Kurdistan. We came in with the reconstruction of Iraq. In Afghanistan we are working almost exclusively with NGOs. We’re very specific about the type of business we want to do. We could do the same business as Blackwater, but it’s not the kind of culture we are looking at.

Interesting comment, but I do not agree. There are just as many complexities and issues working the oil/gas/NGO/reconstruction angle, as there are with working for a government like the US. I think the reason why Garda is not getting into that arena is because the market is filled with US PSC/PMC providers that are ‘preferred’ by the US Government and army, and not because of the culture. So for that market, they simply cannot compete.

I see this comment as more of the same when it comes to bashing US companies in order to differentiate and ‘elevate’ their company.  To say we are not like them, when in fact you are exactly like them, is telling. You provide a protective service to clients, and your culture is no different than a US company culture. (do a search on Garda or GardaWorld and they have had their fair share of issues–so their ‘culture’ is not immune despite the clients they choose)

Also, working for an NGO in Afghanistan, is working in a war zone. I think that comment was a misstatement. And if they are doing any convoy work or motorcades from Kurdistan to the southern Iraq or central Iraq, then they are operating in a war zone. And of course, Kurdistan has not separated from Iraq…yet, so working in Iraq is still working in Iraq. lol

Cool interview regardless, and check it out below. –Matt

 

In conversation: Stephan Crétier of Garda
On becoming the Wal-mart of security, and what exactly Garda is doing in the middle east
by Martin Patriquin
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Stephan Crétier stumbled into the security industry in 1994. Five years later, with a $25,000 second mortgage on his home, he bought and radically revamped the Montreal-based security firm Garda, best known for its armoured trucks and pistol-packing guards. Today, the company is one of the largest of its kind in the world with revenues last year of over $1.1 billion. Roughly a year after moving into the fraught security industry in the Middle East, four employees of GardaWorld, Garda’s global security wing, and Peter Moore, the man they were protecting, were kidnapped in Baghdad. Only Moore survived.
Q: You were actually on track to become a baseball umpire. Why the career change?
A: I was doing some minor league baseball in the U.S. It was really a question of looking down the road and asking, “Am I going to make it?” It’s a long road, and at the same time your friends are out of university and getting real jobs. One day, I decided it was enough, and I went back to Montreal. I worked for a small mom-and-pop [security] operation, and after five years I decided to start my own. The rest is history.
Q: You acquired Garda in 1999. What were the dynamics of the security services industry at the time that led you to believe you could make a serious go of this thing?
A: When I started the business—I don’t want to insult anyone, but it was security people in business instead of business people in security. We had security people trying to build a police-type model. We tried to replicate a model that existed in Europe in the early ’70s. Those companies really accelerated their growth when Europe discovered terrorism; [Europe] needed the help of a more modern and professional private sector to help take care of national security.

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Legal News: GardaWorld Contractors Charged With Weapons Smuggling In Afghanistan Declared Innocent And Freed

Thanks to Kimberley for giving me the heads up on this. This is great news and I am glad these two British security contractors and two local nationals (I am assuming) were freed and declared innocent. No word if the company had to use bribes or some kind of cash payment to get these guys free, or if a court of law legitimately released them based purely on their innocence.

I would also be curious about these other two local Afghan contractors, just because nothing was mentioned in the story about their status. Logic being that they were released along with the two Brits, but you never know?  Either way, it is still great news. –Matt

Edit: 04/21/2012- Just to update everyone on this, Kimberley was able to secure the release of all four contractors and they were all released the same day. She also represented all four – two Brits, two Afghans.

 

Two Britons released after Afghanistan arrest
Mar 20, 2012
Two British men arrested in Afghanistan with 30 AK-47 assault rifles have been released and cleared after a January arrest for weapons smuggling, their Canadian employer said Tuesday.
Julian Steele and James Davis were detained while driving through Kabul with the rifles, whose serial numbers had been erased. The Afghan government said the men did not have proper documentation for carrying weapons and were charged with illegal weapons smuggling.
“I can confirm that they were freed and declared innocent,” GardaWorld security firm spokeswoman Nathalie de Champlain told AFP in Montreal, without providing further details.
The firm, which provides global risk consulting and security services, has long denied the allegations, saying the weapons were “properly licensed” and were being taken to be tested at a shooting range for future purchase by GardaWorld.
Two Afghan nationals traveling with the men were also detained.

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Industry Talk: The EU’s EEAS To Spend €15mn On Private Security Firms This Year

Ashton’s €15-million-a-year special security budget is tiny compared to what member states shell out. According to foreign office figures provided to EUobserver, the UK between mid-2006 and mid-2010 spent €196 million on private security in Iraq alone.

Excellent news for the guys across the pond. In this article they list a bunch of the PSC’s that the EU uses in it’s foreign missions. It also lists the countries that they are using private security in.

The list of companies and the countries goes as follows:

Page Group: Afghanistan

Argus: Haiti, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Control Risks: Israel. 

Saladin: Pakistan.

*The EU foreign corps last year put Argus and Page, as well as French company Geos, Canadian firm GardaWorld and British company G4S on a special shortlist. The listing means that if a new job comes up, the EEAS can hire one of them in a decision which takes just two weeks, instead of a year-or-so, as with a normal EU tender.(from article below)

Very cool and I didn’t know that Argus was such a player in this game?  Here is a clip from their bio page:

Over time the company has specialized in protection, risk assessment and crisis management for international corporations and their foreign branches, but also for international organizations and diplomatic entities located in volatile countries.
Shortly before the end of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the company established its business in Budapest, Hungary for strategic and geographic reasons. However, 97% of its activities are currently conducted outside of the European Union.
Argus Security Projects Ltd. currently has 600 staff members permanently deployed worldwide.

What I also like about this list of companies, to include the short list, is that you get an idea as to what the EU thinks is an acceptable company to work with. Both in cost, reputation, experience and capability. Although I will save my judgement on these companies, just because they could have been chosen because they are the cheapest?… It also shows what countries the EU has interest in and that they are compelled to hire private security to accomplish that mission.

The Saudi Arabia mission is obvious for it’s oil. Places like Libya have oil too, and Europe needs that oil bad. So getting into that country and securing their folks while they do their thing is a priority–all so they can influence and get a place at the ‘trough’ there. Before the revolution in Libya, Europe had a high amount of oil imports from Libya, and I imagine that they would like to get that back. Not only that, but get that source back to the level of ‘secure and dependable’. That is not easy and it takes some work in the diplomacy department to get that done. Interesting stuff. –Matt

 

Ashton to spend €15mn on private security firms
March 9, 2012
By Andrew Rettman
Catherine Ashton’s External Action Service (EEAS) is to spend €15 million on private security firms this year as part of broader efforts to protect diplomats overseas.
The money is to cover “fully integrated security services” at its outposts in Beirut, Benghazi, Islamabad, Jerusalem, Kabul, Port-au-Prince, Ryiadh, Saleh and Tripoli.
It will spend another €35 million on hiring day-to-day security staff for the rest of its 136 foreign delegations. Some other places are also considered risky (diplomats are asked not to take families to Baghdad and Monrovia), but do not qualify for the “fully integrated” treatment.
The Afghanistan mission is currently protected by armed, company-logo-wearing ex-military types, including former Nepalese Gurkhas, supplied by London-based firm Page Group. When the EU ambassador leaves his compound, he travels in a convoy of three cars with seven bodyguards. Last year, someone took a pot-shot at his office window while he was briefing staff. In 2010, he was nearly hit by a rocket at a tribal congress.

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Legal News: Four GardaWorld Contractors Charged Over Weapons

Here is the latest status on the four GardaWorld security contractors that were detained by Afghan authorities for transporting weapons. If GardaWorld or any friends and family would like to speak about this incident, please feel free to do so in the comments. I would also suggest to contact Kimberley Motley in Afghanistan for any legal assistance if the company is looking for resources. –Matt

 

Britons charged over Afghan guns
January 31, 2012
Two British private security contractors arrested four weeks ago in Afghanistan on suspicion of smuggling AK-47 assault rifles have been charged by Afghan authorities.
Local police detained the men, named earlier this month as Julian Steele and James Davis, along with two Afghan colleagues in the capital Kabul on January 3.
Afghan officials said they were found to be transporting 30 AK-47s with their serial numbers scratched off and did not have the necessary firearms permits.
The international security firm all four men were working for, GardaWorld, confirmed on Tuesday that a charge sheet had been filed.

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