Non-stick Nick to shrug off G4S threat

Non-stick Nick to shrug off G4S threat

By Jonathan Guthrie

Come on down, Nick Buckles, Corporate Survivor of the Year. Grandstanding MPs wanted his company G4S blacklisted from new public sector work after it bungled delivery of Olympics security. The group is nevertheless one of six outsourcers selected by the Department for Work and Pensions to help manage politically sensitive welfare reforms

For Non-Stick Nick to achieve real “closure”, as agony aunts would term it, he must settle with Olympic authorities. These share blame for G4S’s failure to provide all 10,400 security staff specified by a poorly designed contract. Soldiers were drafted in to make up the shortfall.

G4S is running short of time to do a deal before Christmas. Analysts such as Mike Allen of Panmure Gordon suspect that a previous £50m provision on the Olympic contract may be too low. However, Mr Buckles should still enjoy a merrier winterval than two lieutenants ousted in September.

Former chairman Alf Duch-Pedersen is another “absent friend” Mr Buckles might toast. He announced his retirement in January to atone for a £5.2bn plan to buy Danish group ISS that scared investors.

It is thanks to them Mr Buckles has clung on. The City credits him with creating a winning culture that should allow G4S to maintain strong growth through expansion into emerging markets. Even after this year’s reversals, the shares are 56 per cent higher than in late 2008. Valued in line with Securitas, a slower grower, they look affordable, providing Mr Buckles can dodge further PR disasters.

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