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Johannesburg - South African security barrier firm Trellidor Holdings listed in Johannesburg at the lower end of its expected price range on Wednesday, joining a growing band of firms seeking to expand in a nation known for its high crime rate.

Trellidor, which makes and distributes custom-made anti-burglar bars for windows and doors, closed at 602 cents, valuing the company at R651 million.

Shares, which opened at 620 cents, had risen as high as 650 cents in early trading before paring gains.

The company will use the cash raised to buy smaller companies in the sector and expand into the rest of Africa, Chief Executive Terry Dennison told Reuters.

Trellidor, the only listed company in barrier security, joins tracking technology firms such as Cartrack Holdings, Allied Electronics Corporation and Mix Telematics which have grown rapidly as South Africans seek to prevent crime.

In a country where the murder rate increased around 5 percent this year from 2014 to nearly 50 per day, home safety is an obsession. Robberies at residential properties are up 5.2 percent, according to government figures released last month.

In developed markets most of the business is from corporate clients but in South Africa private citizens account for as much as 90 percent of Trellidor's clients, said Dennison.

And despite weak economic growth, these firms keep generating new business as consumers purchase new assets.

“We are essentially a non-discretionary type spend, when there is a need people will invest in security,” Dennison said.

Most free-standing homes in middle class and upper-middle class suburbs have some sort of barrier security, but as more South Africans move into gated communities they want more aesthetically pleasing deterrents or more layers of security, Dennison said.

Currently, the rest of Africa accounts for 11 percent of sales, and Trellidor wants to expand abroad.

“We see significant growth potential from investments in the rest of the African continent, where the African market for security is also accelerating as a result of urbanisation and growing home and asset ownership,” Dennison said.

Security firms have proven an attractive investment in South Africa. Cartrack, which listed last year, has gained around 25 percent in the past six months, benefiting from insurers' demands that new car buyers install tracking equipment.

“I like the space that Trellidor plays in; crime does pay and it's an escalating problem,” said Vunani Securities' small and medium market cap analyst Anthony Clark in a note.