When security guru Jules Kroll decided to join forces with armored-car specialist Bill O'Gara in late 1997, the duo seemed set to dominate the world of danger. But the real danger, it seems, was in trying to work together. The synergies of Kroll O'Gara never happened: Top brass bickered, 1999 losses were heavy, and the stock price sits at less than one-fifth of its $41.38 high. After a buyer backed out, executives decided on Apr. 18 to break into three companies--Kroll, O'Gara, and an information-security firm called Securify.

Who's the villain in this caper? Analysts blame management for an acquisition binge and inability to agree on a strategy. Kroll, 58, admits merging cultures and head offices was hard. "I think we should have established one headquarters with one strategy at the outset," Chairman Kroll says. Until the breakup, he will be co-CEO with O'Gara, 42, who adds "there just wasn't enough clarity as to who led and who followed."

But Kroll says the duo could enjoy "a continuing relationship." Shareholders may not feel the same.

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