Securitas names new CEO in preparation for digital change

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Bloomberg) -- Securitas AB is replacing its chief executive officer with an insider who’s almost two decades his junior to steer Sweden’s biggest security company through a paradigm shift from manned guarding to big data and artificial intelligence.

Magnus Ahlqvist will take over as CEO in March next year after Alf Goransson asked to step down after more than a decade in the job, the Stockholm-based company said in a statement on Monday. Ahlqvist, who joined Securitas in 2015 following a career at Sony Ericsson, Sony Mobile and Motorola Mobility, is currently president of Securitas’s largest business segment, Security Services Europe.

As the company continues to boost sales of security services based on software and technological equipment such as network cameras “we also need to have a longer perspective, and start thinking beyond 2020, maybe toward 2025,” Ahlqvist said in an interview at Securitas’ headquarters. “We need to use the opportunities in digitalization and information.”

Ahlqvist will be supported by his predecessor for two years after he assumes the top position at the company, which has almost 300,000 employees worldwide. The new CEO will focus on improving the efficiency of Securitas’ traditional manned-guarding business by introducing more technology. After a failed attempt to buy back Niscayah Group AB, a provider of technological security services that was spun out from Securitas under his predecessor, Goransson has had to rely on smaller acquisitions and recruiting engineers to bolster the company’s tech offering.

Shares in the company rose as much as 2.7 percent in the Swedish capital, putting it among the top day’s performers in the OMX Stockholm 30 index. This year, Securitas has slipped about 8 percent, compared with a 2.5 percent increase in Stockholm’s benchmark index.

Predicting Incidents Last year, camera-assisted security and other technology solutions represented 16 percent of Securitas’ sales, and Goransson predicted that the next large transformation of the industry will be when companies start using data from technological equipment to optimize services and predict incidents.

“The timing for this leadership change is good,” Goransson said. “This will be the next era, the next paradigm shift in the security industry, and it’s excellent to have new management in place for that.”

Goransson, who most recently made headlines when his identity was hacked and he was temporarily declared “bankrupt,” said Securitas will give more detailed information about how it plans to use big data and artificial intelligence early next year.

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