(In paragraph nine, changes job title to manager of the equity
income fund and company name to Premier Asset Management)
* CEO Nick Buckles to step down at end of May
* Will be replaced by CFO Ashley Almanza
* Two big shareholders say they support the move
* Shares down 0.4 percent
By Christine Murray and Neil Maidment
LONDON, May 21 G4S, the world's largest
security group, is replacing its chief executive after a series
of failures including a staffing fiasco at the 2012 London
Olympics culminated in a recent profit warning.
Nick Buckles, 52, who has led the company for eight years,
will be succeeded at the end of the month by Chief Financial
Officer Ashley Almanza, a former executive of oil and gas firm
BG Group who joined in March.
Although G4S shares have outpaced the FTSE 100 index
of blue-chip companies during Buckles' tenure, he will likely be
remembered for mistakes over the last 18 months that have
These include a squeeze on margins that led to the profit
warning earlier this month and a failed takeover bid for rival
Danish cleaning firm ISS, as well as the Olympics contract which
Buckles said at the time had left the company's reputation in
Shares in G4S have fallen by 12 percent since Buckles
announced the proposed $8 billion takeover of ISS in October
Two of G4S's biggest shareholders welcomed his departure on
"I think we feel that the time is right for Nick (Buckles)
to move on," a leading shareholder who declined to be identified
"We've got a very high regard for Ashley Almanza, we know
Ashley well from his time at BG, we think he's an excellent
Chris White, manager of the equity income fund at Premier
Asset Management, the 30th biggest investor in G4S, said the
move was positive and should accelerate the company's
G4S, whose rivals include Serco and Swedish security
firm Securitas, wants to increase revenue from
emerging markets to half the total from a third to soften the
pressure on margins from government austerity drives in
developed markets. It is looking for acquisitions in the Middle
East and India.
The company warned earlier this month that its margins and
profits would be lower in 2013, blaming a shake-up of the Dutch
prison system, problem clients in Africa and lower volumes in
its British cash and justice businesses.
That prompted a 14 percent fall in the share price, which
analysts at Jefferies and Espirito Santo said on Tuesday may
have been the catalyst for Buckles' departure.
Buckles started at British security firm Securicor in 1985.
That company merged with Group 4 Falck in 2004, where Buckles
oversaw the transition into the current G4S brand after becoming
CEO the following year.
Shares in G4S have risen 67 percent, outstripping a 31
percent rise in the FTSE 100 index under his leadership.
But his decision in late 2011 to launch a surprise takeover
of ISS severely hit investor confidence, not least because of
the 2 billion pound rights issue required to secure it. The deal
collapsed after shareholders opposed it.
The following year, G4S failed to provide a promised 10,400
security guards just weeks before the London Olympics, forcing
British Army troops to step in and sparking a barrage of public
and political criticism.
Buckles was grilled by British lawmakers over the Olympics
failure in public hearings, where is shaggy hairstyle caught the
attention of Twitter users.
An internal review in September spared Buckles, who earned
about 1.2 million pounds ($1.8 million) last year, after it
concluded it did not find any significant shortcomings in his
handling of the contract. Two managers left instead.
The company's reputation with the British government took a
further hit last week when the Ministry of Justice said it may
have been overcharged by G4S and Serco on a contract to monitor
offenders released from prison.
G4S said on Tuesday it had appointed Eddie Ashton from
German postal firm DHL as chief operating officer. Stuart Curl,
currently a regional chief financial officer, will become acting
CFO until a replacement for Almanza can be found.
Shares in the firm were down 0.4 percent by 1055 GMT to
($1 = 0.6570 British pounds)
(Editing Erica Billingham)