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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023


SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter With dangers like kidnapping and terrorism making headlines, Encino-based security firm Pinkerton’s Inc. has launched a division to provide assistance to multinational companies doing business abroad. Pinkerton’s new division, Business Risks International, has already landed a contract with Cigna International to provide security consulting to corporations Cigna insures against for such dangers as terrorism, kidnapping and extortion or product tampering. “More and more companies are going international, and often they’re sending people overseas to work in areas they’re not familiar with,” said David C. Fields, a former U.S. ambassador Pinkerton’s has tapped to act as senior managing director of the new division. Business Risks International will study a client’s security risks and help it devise a plan to deal with a host of potential dangers. The company is also prepared to run simulations to help its clients practice handling different scenarios, be it a terrorist attack or sabotage. “Most large corporations have a crisis plan to deal with these things,” Fields said. “But some of the mid-sized companies don’t, and you don’t want to wait until a situation arises to start planning.” While U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa have helped publicize the risks of doing business abroad, Fields said the market for such services has been growing for some time, especially as multinationals have ventured into Third World countries. “When they go off to London they don’t have to worry. But when they you go off to places in the Third World, things are different,” Fields said. “Governments and law-enforcement agencies don’t function as well as they do in highly developed countries.” Armed guards, for example, are standard for companies doing business in places like Nairobi and some of the countries in the former Czech Republic. David Samuel, vice president and product-line manager for Cigna’s International Financial Services division, would not divulge specific figures, but added that he expects the division to grow to $200 million or more in the next five years. “Zaire has had two rebellions in less than a year,” Samuel said. “As various factions move back and forth across the countryside, these situations create a need on the part of people who conduct business there, and we recognized this is an area where our services would be of great importance.” Different countries pose different risks. In some countries in Latin America, kidnapping and extortion are among the most prevalent dangers. In Africa and the Middle East, it is terrorism. In more developed countries, product tampering and accidental contamination may be among the biggest concerns. Workplace violence, however, appears to be the virtually exclusive domain of American companies at home, said Fields. A single terrorist act can increase the danger for others doing business in that country. In Kenya, for example, Fields said that the bombing of the American Embassy will force governments to fortify their security, and as they do, terrorists will look for different targets. “They’re going to go where they can make a statement, and two, where they’re going to get away with it,” Fields said. “If they can’t get at the government, they’re going to go after the private sector.” Cigna selected Pinkerton’s after reviewing a number of firms. The company, with revenues of more than $1 billion and more than 250 offices worldwide, has the scope to provide the necessary services, Samuel said. The company can provide emergency crisis response anywhere in the world within 24 hours. “I think if you look at situations such as occurred in Indonesia, where there was severe loss of property and a lot of Western and commercial interests were placed at risk, that situation has the capability of repeating itself in Central Africa, certain Latin American countries and certain parts of Asia,” Samuel said. “Pinkerton’s is able to provide insight and warning to deteriorating situations, provide expertise and dispatch people if something does happen.”

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