Mon, November 18, 2013

Olympics G4S security boss questions future

By Reuters



Olympic security shortcomings
 

LONDON -- G4S Chief Executive Nick Buckles said he had considered his future following the security firm’s botched London Olympics contract, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Buckles, who has been with G4S for 27 years, will speak to shareholders this week to explain why it will not be able to deliver the 10,400 security guards it is contracted to do, forcing government to call up 3,500 extra military personnel as protection.

Asked if he had considered his position as chief executive, Buckles said: “Of course. I have got to make sure we deliver this contract. What happens there afterwards is down to others.”

“I want to stay. I have been here 27 years, I am very committed to staying. It just depends doesn’t it?”

In a statement issued late on Friday the group admitted its shortfall errors and said the issue would cost the firm as much as 50 million pounds ($77.73 million).

Buckles followed that up with a series of apologetic TV and radio interviews on Saturday and will continue his restoration mission at a British parliamentary committee hearing on Tuesday, when he will be asked to explain the Olympic-size problem.

The 284 million pound Olympics contract was meant to be a flagship deal for G4S but its failure has now heaped more pressure on Buckles, who escaped an investor revolt last year following a botched multibillion-pound takeover of Danish cleaning firm ISS.

His credibility with investors saved him then but having admitted that this crisis is bigger than the one he faced with ISS, together with concerns over how the problems will effect G4S’s chances of winning new government work, pressure may increase this time.

On Friday, a top 20 G4S investor told Reuters: “I would say we are watching the situation closely and would be concerned if there was long-term reputational damage which affected the ability to win future contracts.”

While there has already been some high profile criticism for G4S in parliament, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was a little more sympathetic on Sunday.

“Well I don’t think this is a moment for getting into the blame game. Actually G4S have been quite honourable. They put their hands up,” he told BBC TV.

“I think it’s completely normal that you’re going to find some contractors on a project of this size who aren’t able to deliver what they promise. And what you’ve got to do as a minister is make sure that you’ve got contingency plans in place so that the overall project is not at risk, and that’s what we’ve done.”

G4S which has 4,000 staff trained and another 9,000 going through its systems, said it had underestimated the challenge of bringing so many people together but insisted that problems have not compromised security at the Olympic Park.

Buckles also defended the group’s Olympic recruitment practice which has drawn widespread criticism from applicants contacting the British media, citing confusion and chaos among training classes and the application process.

“I think the only criticism which is valid is we are a little bit disorganised. Because we had to do the process out of order - so some got training before they got another sort of training,” Buckles said.

“Everybody on the assignment was going to be trained. The SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence is four days’ training, so whatever happens they would have had to sat in a classroom for four days and done the same training as every other of the 250,000 security officers. Those two bits are absolute fact, no one can argue about that.”