Helena Revoredo, the widow of the founder of Prosegur Cia de Seguridad SA, whose 4,200 yellow armored vans haul more than $400 million a year on three continents, has become one of Spain’s richest women.
Shares of the Madrid-based company have risen 32 percent in the last 12 months as its proportion of business from Latin America has attracted investors. Revoredo owns half of the operation throughholding company Gubel SL, Prosegur company filings show, and has a net worth of at least $2.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. She has never appeared on an international wealth ranking.
“The reason why Prosegur has done very well is that it’s heavily geared towards Latin America,” said David Greenall, London-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets, in a telephone interview. “On the whole, security companies through 2012 lagged quite considerably and the domestic markets have been incredibly tough economically.”
Revoredo’s wealth surge comes amid a yearlong recession in Spain that has pushed unemployment to 25 percent. The country’s economy is expected to contract by 1.5 percent in 2013, according to a Bloomberg survey of 26 economists.
Prosegur’s sales increased 9.7 percent to 2.8 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in 2011. More than half of the company’s sales are generated in Latin America (PSG), according to the company’s annual report.
Spain’s richest woman is Rosalia Mera, who co-founded Inditex SA (ITX) with her former husband, Amancio Ortega, the world’s third-richest man. She controls a $5.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg ranking. The majority of Mera’s wealth is derived from her five percent stake in Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara brand.
Revoredo, whose age could not be confirmed, was born in Rosario, Argentina. She married Herberto Gut, who founded Prosegur in Spain in 1976. The company’s private security services, including safeguarding cash-in-transit and providing security guards, proved popular after the fall of the authoritarian Franco regime in 1975.
In 1987, Prosegur became the first Spanish security company to sell shares in an initial public offering. Revoredo inherited Gut’s stake in the company a decade later, when he died in a car accident. She was named chairman of the company in 2004. Her son, Christian Gut, was named Chief Executive Officer four years later.
Revoredo is also a director at Banco Popular, Spain’s sixth-largest lender, and owns a 0.3 percent stake in the company. The bank’s share price dropped 70 percent in 2012, valuing her stake at $23 million. She has also collected about $240 million in dividends from Prosegur since 1997, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Jorge Alvarez-Naveiro, Prosegur’s head of corporate communications, declined to comment on Revoredo’s net worth calculation.
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