Labour Compliance Helped Sweeten Deal: Indian Buyer

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New Delhi, Aug 10 (UNI) An Indian private security firm claims to have acquired an Australian counterpart despite a lower bid-- by virtue of a sound track record of complying with labour laws.

''That was the clinching factor,'' says Security and Intelligence Services group chairman Rabindra Kishore Sinha, adding how most other buyers had offered higher bids, ''by at least 10 million dollars'' Sinha said the world's top security names were in the bidding for the leading guard and mobile patrol provider Chubb Australia and all bid higher than SIS.

''The Chubb board picked our offer mainly because of our labour record-- no litigations, no disputes-- in existing operations.'' SIS currently employs 30,000 employees globally and reported a Rs-200 crore turnover last year with revenue growing 50 per cent or more annually over the past three years.

''Even businesswise,'' says Sinha, ''such track record makes most sense. Letting poor labour relations hurt stock is simply absurd.'' Unlike the United States, India has no Better Business Bureau to verify a company's standing or practices at the drop of a hat. The owners had buyers investigated before striking a deal, Sinha said.

Spun off from its American parent United Technologies two years ago, Chubb Australia employs 8,000 Australians and showed a 500-million dollars turnover last year.

The Rs 1,000 crore-- about 250 million dollars-- purchase is a first by an Indian firm and makes SIS the world's third largest security agency after Securitas and Group 4 Securicor. It now looks to acquire agencies in New Zealand, China and West Asia.

Sinha said he plans to expand the operations to employ 80,000 by 2012.

He is raising money from State Bank of India and private equity company DE Shaw to fund global growth.

Sinha said he seeks medium scale companies with good employee welfare records, good adherence to statutary norms, good customer retention and customer satisfaction.

The global market for guarding and mobile patrol services is estimated at 25 billion dollars.

Asia, which makes up 20 per cent of it, is growing fast, at 15 to 20 per cent a year, as against the West, where the demand has already peaked.

In an industry notorious for penny-pinching at employees' cost, Sinha says, he makes no deals that would require him to short-change his guards.

UNI MJ SBC HT1230

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