Ex-CIA man set to join UK security group




By Mark Huband in London

Financial Times, 11 April 2005

ArmorGroup International, the UK-based protective security group, is expected to announce today that the former deputy director of the CIA’s clandestine operations department is to become the company’s Washington- based head of global strategy.

Stephen Kappes, who was the CIA’s point man in the joint UK-US negotiations in 2003 that led to Libya abandoning its weapons of mass destruction programme, will spearhead the company’s plan to seize a bigger share of US security contracts.

The appointment is seen as a further sign of private sector companies moving into areas that had once been the strict preserve of government agencies.

ArmorGroup, which employs 7,700 people and provides security services in 26 countries, listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2004.

Preliminary results issued last month revealed annual turnover had doubled in 2004 to US$191.1m, mainly because of the company’s activities in Iraq. Underlying Ebita for the year stood at $19.9m while pre-tax profit increased four-fold to $13.4m.

The December 2004 IPO and the group’s plans to establish a firm foothold in the US, are cornerstones of its current development strategy.

“Steve is a very straight shooter who has wide experience of doing dangerous things in dangerous places,” said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA officer who worked closely with Mr Kappes until last year.

“He is a good manager, and his performance overseas in very difficult circumstances showed this,” Mr Scheuer said, adding that Mr Kappes was “someone that should not have been lost to the CIA”.

Mr Kappes left the CIA in November when the agency was in turmoil following the appointment last year of its current director, Porter Goss.

Mr Goss made several senior appointments which angered many experienced officers, and led to several high-profile resignations from the agency.

Mr Kappes’ departure was less acrimonious than some others, and he is regarded as well-placed to tap into the US government departments through which ArmorGroup hopes to expand its US-sourced business.

Contracts directly tied to its US operations currently account for seven per cent of the company’s business, and it is hoped this will increase to 20 per cent this year.

“What I want to see Steve doing is driving from the US our strategy of regional development, in Russia, the CIS and the Middle East, and looking at political risk scenarios to determine how best to go into certain areas,” said Jerry Hoffman, ArmorGroup CEO.


© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.