(...) Smith Brandon International.
While many security companies claim to offer a full range of services, Smith Brandon , the Washington-based group, is unashamedly specialised. It aims to provide high-level political analysis and business intelligence, while its New York office concentrates on due diligence and financial investigations. (...)
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Insecurity and fear feed a once secretive industry: WHO'S WHO by Peter Thal Larsen: Business has boomed since the September 11 terror attacks on the US
The corporate security industry has grown up. When Jules Kroll started his business in 1972, investigators largely operated in the shadows and their existence was rarely acknowledged, even by their clients.
In the aftermath of the terrorism attacks on the US on September 11, the industry's image could hardly be more different.
Eager to reassure their employees, many companies were more than happy to tell anyone who cared to listen that they had hired a corporate security company to advise on how best to protect their workforces.
Despite the advances, data on the industry remains hard to come by as most companies are still privately-owned and reluctant to divulge financial information.
Below we offer a snapshot of the leading industry players and catalogue some of the new entrants.
* Kroll Still regarded - even by rivals - as the leading company in the sector, covering the broad range of security, intelligence and investigation services worldwide.
Under the watchful eye of its chairman, Jules Kroll, the company has unwound its ill-fated merger with O'Gara, the armoured-car manufacturer, and is expanding. Kroll has three core businesses: security services, employee screening and consulting services, such as investigations, forensic accounting and due diligence.
Last week, Kroll added a fourth leg with the Dollars 140m acquisition of Ontrack, the provider of data recovery and computer forensics services.
* Control Risks Founded in 1975, Control Risks has long been one of the leading players in Europe and is rapidly establishing itself in the US.
Although its origins lie in kidnap and ransom advice, the group now offers a full range of political risk, due diligence, and investigative services. It has made the occasional acquisition but its experienced management team has resisted regular overtures from larger players.
* Decision Strategies The company, which was founded by the former federal prosecutor Bart Schwartz, has returned to its original name five years after merging with Fairfax International.
Last year, the company was sold to SPX, the conglomerate, which has given Mr Schwartz and his executives a remit to expand through acquisition.
Although there are few examples of security concerns prospering as part of a larger owner, Decision Strategies so far appears to be performing well.
* Pinkerton By far the oldest name in the detective business, Pinkerton traces its roots to 1850, when Allan Pinkerton was retained by the US government to protect the currency.
Now part of Securitas, the Swedish security group, the group is using the Pinkerton name for its high-end security consulting, investigations, intelligence and forensic accounting businesses.
* Armor Holdings One of the few publicly-traded companies, Armor spans a manufacturing business as well as a consultancy division, which it has assembled largely by acquisition.
The company has benefited from the post-September 11 vogue for security companies, seeing its share price almost double since the attacks.
Jonathan Spiller, chief executive, has made acquisitions, buying the O'Gara armoured-car business from Kroll and snapping up consultancies in the UK. However, hanging on to talent in its consultancy businesses has proved difficult.
* Risk Advisory Group London-based Risk Advisory Group was started by a group of former Kroll executives with Bill Waite, the former Serious Fraud Office investigator.
It offers a range of investigation services and has a well-respected emerging markets practice. It has also branched out into the employee screening business.
* Investigative Group International The Washington-based group founded in 1984 by Terry Lenzner, one of the veterans of the industry, remains a force to be reckoned with, especially in US government-related matters.
The company has seen a pickup in demand for traditional security work since September 11, but investigation work has been growing too.
* Bishop International Bishop's origins were as an agency working mostly for clients in the Lloyd's insurance market. But under chief executive Jeff Katz the company has switched to corporate intelligence and investigations as well as patent and trade mark protection.
Bishop is understood to have had approaches from several rivals, but for now continues to plough its own furrow.
* Smith Brandon International While many security companies claim to offer a full range of services, Smith Brandon , the Washington-based group, is unashamedly specialised. It aims to provide high-level political analysis and business intelligence, while its New York office concentrates on due diligence and financial investigations.
* Quest Founded in 1995 by Nigel Layton, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers investigator, Quest conducts investigations and provides a range of M&A-related services. Shareholders include Sir Harry Solomon, the former chairman of Hillsdown Holdings, the food group, and his daughter, Louise.
* Guardsmark With 17,000 employees, Guardsmark is one of the largest privately-owned security companies in the business. It provides security advice to corporations and supplies manned guards. It has been growing rapidly in the past year, and is especially proud of the stringent criteria its employees need to meet before being hired. New players
* Omnicom Safir Rosetti,a company set up by former New York police commissioner Howard Safir and former Kroll executive Joe Rosetti, with backing from the global advertising giant Omnicom. The company has already snapped up Noesis, a Californian investigative group, and has now turned its sights on targets in Europe.
* Citigate Intelligence and Security is the start-up set up by a breakaway group from Kroll led by Ernie Brod, with backing from Incepta, the PR concern.
* Alaco is the name for the new company set up by Amy Lashinsky and Ambrose Carey, the founders of Asmara, who left the London-based group a few months ago after several years under the umbrella of Armor Holdings.
* Diligence, based in Washington and London, was founded by a former CIA operations officer and an ex-MI5 intelligence officer. The group has some high-profile supporters, including its chairman, Richard Burt, the former assistant secretary of state.
* Objective Team was formed by former members of the UK army and intelligence services to advise companies on security. Working with a loose network of specialists, it aims to advise large companies on which services they need.