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G4S Readies Guards as Cypriot Banks Prepare to Open


The world's largest security firm, G4S, moves cash and will provide guards for Cypriot lenders including Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank, the two biggest, which are to be combined and see large depositors' accounts frozen under a bailout agreed at the weekend.

Cypriot banks have been shut for more than a week while the government worked out the bailout and will stay closed until Thursday to prevent a run. Meanwhile, Cypriots have been queuing to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines, with limits at some shrinking down to 100 euros a day.

John Arghyrou, managing director of the Cyprus business for G4S, said its 750 employees have been working through the night, going out to replenish cash machines with police guard. Licensing rules prevented the firm from bringing in extra staff to handle the unprecedented workload.

"Demand is greater than we can provide... We haven't closed since the crisis started," he told Reuters. "I've never seen anything like it in terms of what is going on from a security perspective. I would say the workload has quadrupled because the whole system has changed."

Arghyrou would not comment on whether more cash has been flown in to replenish the vaults so that banks are ready to open on Thursday, but said he did not expect a bank run.

"People have had time to digest the agreement so maybe there won't be that scenario whereby people run to the banks to withdraw," he said.

"I don't see people panicking, I see people worrying about what the next day will hold for them, whether the next day they will have a job. I see people having a lot of questions and waiting for answers."

While the banks have been closed, businesses have been calling on the security company to find places to keep their cash and asking for guards and alarms to protect their assets.


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