G4S backs CEO over Olympic fiasco

Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:52am EDT
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By Neil Maidment and Rosalba O'Brien

LONDON (Reuters) - G4S (GFS.L: Quote) stood by its chief executive Nick Buckles but said two other senior executives would go following its probe into an embarrassing Olympic contract blunder.

G4S admitted just two weeks before the London Olympics that it could not provide a promised 10,400 guards, forcing troops to step in and make up the shortfall in a contract failure that threatens the security firm's commercial relationship with the British government.

But in its review the firm said it did not uncover any "significant shortcomings" in the CEO's handling of the contract and company chairman John Connolly defended Buckles, who has been with the company for 27 years.

"He has tremendous loyalty to him from within the company and he has tremendously loyalty from within the shareholder base and those are characteristics that get earned over a long period," Connolly said in an interview with Reuters.

Buckles became the public face of the Olympic failure, taking to television and radio airwaves to apologize to the British public and twice being hauled in front of a Parliamentary Committee to explain what had happened.

His continued presence could make it more awkward for the British government, a key client of G4S, to hand the company sensitive outsourcing contracts.

Government deals account for over half of G4S's 1.8 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) British revenue. The group, which operates in over 125 countries, is expected to achieve total revenue of 8 billion pounds this year.

"Our hope is that we will be looked at in the round, based on all of our credentials and not an over emphasis on the one contract that didn't go well, albeit an extremely important one," Connolly said.   Continued...