G4S shares surge after scandals

G4S has posted strong results, sending its shares soaring on signs the world’s largest security group had bounded back after previous scandals, helped by more demand for its services and a shift in focus away from the UK.
G4S shares surge after scandals

G4S, which runs services ranging from manned security in prisons to cash transportation, is selling weaker units in an overhaul after a string of high-profile contract problems in Britain, which now accounts for one fifth of its revenues.

The firm appears to have put behind it a series of scandals, including news in June that a gunman who killed 49 people in a Florida nightclub was an employee who had not been efficiently vetted.

Core profit of £199m (€233m) rose 8% helped by booming revenues from emerging markets, accounting for increasingly more than the UK and Ireland, where the company has had a string of problems and is scaling back.

“Our strategy and our plans are now delivering tangible results,” chief executive Ashley Almanza said, adding the company was concentrating on whittling down debt and delivering its overhaul.

Analysts had predicted the group could be vulnerable to the backlog in political decision making in Britain after its vote to leave the EU, a more sluggish domestic economy, and a fall in the value of the pound making its debt in foreign currencies more expensive to service.

It was able to whittle down debt to 3.2 times core earnings from 3.3 times at the end of 2015, thanks to strong cash-flow, offsetting the impact of weaker sterling on euro and dollar-denominated debt.

Shares in G4S jumped on relief that the dividend, seen as vulnerable by some analysts, was maintained at 3.59p per share and that the company would not seek to raise more funds, as some analysts had expected.

The shares climbed 16% and were on track for their best one-day rise in 15 years.

Demand for security services has been increasing, even before Islamist attacks in Europe this summer.

In Britain, G4S gained notoriety after failing to provide enough guards for the London Olympics in 2012.

It was later investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging the government to provide electronic tags for offenders, some of whom turned out to have been in jail or dead.

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