March 11, 2020 / 7:46 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Security firm G4S slips to annual loss after $375 mln charge

(Adds detail on results, background)

March 11 (Reuters) - Britain's G4S, one of the world's largest private security firms, on Wednesday reported an annual statutory loss after taking a 291 million pound ($374.75 million) charge chiefly related to its UK cash business.

The services contractor, which employs security guards in several fields such as government agencies, companies and airports, said it has cut back operations in high risk areas to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus but added that the impact so far has been "immaterial".

G4S employs more than half a million people in 90 countries, a third of which in Asia, and a majority of its employees are in frontline roles such as security guards for sporting and entertainment events.

"The group has also commenced a programme to test potentially affected employees and none have tested positive as yet," it said.

The rival of Sweden's Securitas reported a full-year statutory loss of 91 million pounds compared with a profit of 81 million pounds a year earlier, after taking a charge related to restructuring and separation its cash business.

Last month, it sold a majority of its cash transportation business to U.S. rival Brinks for 727 million pounds, including debt, while retaining its payment and cash technology business. It also held on to its entire cash business in UK, where G4S' vans and guards transporting boxes of money are a familiar sight.

$1 = 0.7765 pounds Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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