G4S says making plans with Greece to cope with a bank crisis

Security services group G4S has drawn up plans with Greece’s central bank to keep the country’s cash machines stocked in the event of a full-blown economic crisis, the company told Reuters on Monday.

Andreas Paterakis, the head of southern Europe for G4S, also said the Britain-based company stored cash for a handful of major businesses last week as fears grew about the stability of Greek banks.

“Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were critical, really critical,” he said, referring to withdrawals of cash from Greek banks. He added the situation eased over the weekend.

The European Central Bank has pumped increasing amounts of emergency liquidity into Greek banks to help them cope with the withdrawal of funds.

However, economists warn banks will come under huge pressure and the country — a popular destination for holidaymakers — could have to impose capital controls if it does not reach a deal with creditors soon.

G4S, the world’s biggest security services company, worked to stock cash machines during the 2013 Cypriot banking crisis, and says it collaborates with the majority of Greek banks.

It has been drawing up plans on how much cash it should move around the country, and when, Paterakis said.

The firm has increased staff in recent months to meet an increase in demand for cash, which it estimates has risen by about 30 percent over the last two weeks.

But, unlike the banking crisis in Cyprus, Paterakis said the situation had been anticipated and was not yet as dramatic.

“The biggest partner in these discussions is the central bank and we have daily communication with them and whatever we plan is in full coordination under their approval,” he said.

“We won’t need and we have not involved police and in no way the military, they don’t have to play any role. But if we were asked to carry bigger amounts of money then maybe we would ask for a police escort, especially if it is to remote areas.”

Paterakis said a handful of major clients, both international and local firms, stored cash with the company for two or three days last week.

The mood has improved ahead of an emergency summit of euro zone leaders this evening, he said, adding: “It remains to be seen of course what will happen today.” [Reuters]