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The Blackstone Group and AlliedBarton Security Services announced on July 25 that the private equity fund managed by Blackstone will acquire AlliedBarton, the University's security partner since 1997.

The details of the pending deal are not yet announced. However, Reuters reported that sources familiar with the deal say it is valued at about $1 billion.

There are approximately 400 AlliedBarton guards in residential and academic buildings at the University, as well as 81 patrolling security officers, according to the Department of Public Safety's Web site.

"The pending change in AlliedBarton's holding company relationship will be transparent," said Stefanie Cella, a DPS spokeswoman. "Everyone will be retained in their present job assignment, and their field management team will remain intact and continue to support and serve the University's account as they have in the past."

AlliedBarton Chairman and CEO William Whitmore, Jr. also noted that he did not expect employee cutbacks, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

John Ford, a Blackstone spokesperson, was unable to comment on any specifics concerning personnel at Penn, stating that the deal "hasn't yet closed and it will be a few weeks before that happens."

However, Blackstone managing director Peter Wallace said in a press release, "We look forward to supporting the strong management team during the next phase of the Company's evolution."

In a statement in The Inquirer, the Service Employees International Union supported the deal, saying that it "holds great potential for thousands of hardworking security officers nationwide."

Blackstone has previously supported improving working conditions and higher wages, SEIU spokeswoman Linda Tran said to The Inquirer.

SEIU attempted to unionize AlliedBarton guards at Penn in 2006, but the union met with resistance. Since then, AlliedBarton employees have remained without a union and have been working with Jobs with Justice to help get benefits and higher pay from the University.

AlliedBarton was acquired by MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., a company controlled by Ronald Perelman, New York financier and 1964 Wharton alumnus, in 2003.

According to The Inquirer, the King of Prussia-based security company has almost tripled in size since that acquisition. In 2007, it reported revenues of $1.5 billion and earnings of $89.1 million in profits before taxes and interest payments.

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