G4S says unable to fulfill Olympics security contract

LONDON Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:49pm EDT

A police Swat team member walks on the roof of G4S cash depot in Vastberga, Stockholm September 23, 2009. Robbers used a helicopter to carry out a spectacular theft at the cash depot south of Stockholm early Wednesday morning. REUTERS/Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix

A police Swat team member walks on the roof of G4S cash depot in Vastberga, Stockholm September 23, 2009. Robbers used a helicopter to carry out a spectacular theft at the cash depot south of Stockholm early Wednesday morning.

Credit: Reuters/Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix

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LONDON (Reuters) - Private security firm G4S said on Friday it would be unable to completely fulfill its contract to supply guards for this month's London Olympics and would incur a loss of up to 50 million pounds ($77.73 million).

The company has been at the centre of a political firestorm after the government admitted on Thursday that extra troops would need to be put on standby dye to G4S's problems processing applicants in time for the Games that start in two weeks' time.

Shares in the FTSE 100-listed G4S have fallen in the past 24 hours to their lowest level for almost a month.

G4S said in a statement on Friday that because of difficulties in processing applicants in sufficient numbers through the necessary training, vetting and accreditation procedures, it "will be unable to deliver all of the necessary workforce numbers". No details on numbers were given.

On Thursday, the government put an extra 3,500 troops on standby after it became clear G4S looked unlikely to provide the expected 10,400 guards it was contracted to do so.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned that G4S, the world's biggest security firm, would face consequences for any shortfall.

G4S said it accepted its responsibility for the additional cost of the increased military needed to make up the shortfall.

The company said it would incur other "significant" costs as it tries to meet its contract promises.

"Whilst it is not possible to gauge the precise financial impact, it is estimated that the company will incur a loss on the contract in the range of 35 million pounds to 50 million pounds, all of which will fall in the current financial year."

G4S chief Nick Buckles has been summoned to give evidence to parliament explaining how the crisis was allowed to happen.

G4S's contract, worth an estimated 284 million pounds, includes managing 3,300 students and 3,000 volunteers.

It has said it has about 4,000 staff working at Olympic venues, with more than 9,000 in addition nearing the end of a delayed training process.

About 23,000 security guards had been due to protect venues as part of Britain's biggest peacetime security operation, with 13,500 military personnel already earmarked to contribute.

A call-up of the additional 3,500 troops would take the tally at the Games to 17,000, more than the 9,500 currently deployed in Afghanistan.

G4S employs over 675,000 staff working in areas ranging from cash handling to guarding ships from pirates.

Its contract with the London Olympic organizing committee (LOCOG) would have seen guards providing airport-style checks to search and screen spectators. They would also be responsible for queue management and protecting the perimeters and equipment.

The company also has contracts with the British government. ($1 = 0.6432 British pounds)

(Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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