Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones

Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones

Santa Ana’s Allied Universal, the nation’s largest private security force, is getting a new main shareholder and a valuation topping $7 billion after an investment that poises the company for an additional growth push.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada’s second biggest pension fund with about $235 billion in assets under management, last week agreed to buy 40% of privately owned Allied Universal.

The deal will make Caisse de dépôt Allied’s largest shareholder once the transaction closes, likely in the third quarter.

Besides paying the current owners, the pension fund, also known as CDPQ, will also provide $400 million of primary capital to Allied Universal to help it pursue an aggressive growth strategy that includes acquisitions.

“As we laid out the future for the next five years, they agreed and wanted to invest,” Allied Universal Chief Executive Steve Jones told the Business Journal last week.

If Allied Universal was a publicly traded company, its $7 billion valuation would make it the fifth largest based in Orange County.

Jones began at the predecessor of Allied Universal in 1996 when it had $12 million in annual revenue.

In the past decade, he’s gone on an acquisition spree. The company now has $7 billion in annual revenue and 210,000 employees at 38,000 client sites.

“This investment, which represents one of the largest private transactions in business services, enables us to invest in a national leader in facility and security services, a sector that will continue to experience sustained organic growth and industry consolidation,” Stephane Etroy, CDPQ’s head of private equity, said in a statement.

“We look forward to supporting Allied Universal’s talented management team as they continue to grow this world-class business and build on its track record of providing its clients a customized mix of manned guarding and security technology solutions,” he said.

CDPQ manages funds for 41 public and semi-public organizations in the Quebec region.

No Slowing Down

Even though Allied Universal is labor intensive, which means it isn’t as highly valued as many tech companies, last week’s investment still represents a relatively high value-to-sales ratio of 1 to 1.

“We showed CDPQ how we’ve grown business year in and year out,” Jones said. “We showed them the future, how [we] can use technology.”

Allied Universal, besides providing security guards, also offers technology such as remote monitoring, robotic guards and an Uber-like app. Last year, it hired Chief Financial Officer Drew Vollero, who previously held the same position at Snap Inc. when that hot technology company went public in 2017.

Allied Universal will soon be announcing the purchase of two technology companies, Jones said.

“Technology is an enabler” for security guards, Jones said. “The two combined together equal better service for the customer and a better profit profile.”

Allied Universal will be announcing other acquisitions within the coming months in international markets where it operates, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Latin America, Jones said.

The company was seen as a potential candidate for going public this year.

Those IPO plans are being tabled for 2019, Jones said.

“Our plate [is] full for the next three to four months,” Jones said. “We’re not slowing down.”

Dealmaker

Jones’s previous largest deal as chief executive was the 2016 merger of his company, majority owned by Warburg Pincus LLC, with AlliedBarton Security Services, which was owned by France’s Wendel SE.

Following the latest transaction, Wendel and Warburg Pincus will each retain an 18% stake in Allied Universal. Other investors are Partners Group of Switzerland and management.

Wendel, which bought AlliedBarton in 2015 for $1.68 billion, said it will receive about $350 million in cash proceeds from last week’s deal. Wendel said it has received cash proceeds, including prior distributions, in excess of its total initial investment.

“We are extremely proud of the progress that Steve and the entire Allied Universal team have made during our partnership and look forward to the company’s continued growth with CDPQ’s support,” David Darmon and Adam Reinmann, managing directors of Wendel North America, said in a statement.

Barclays and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as financial advisers to Allied Universal while Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP were legal advisers.