By Neil Maidment
LONDON (Reuters) – Security group G4S will again be considered for government contracts after ministers said on Wednesday they were satisfied with the firm’s efforts to overhaul itself following a series of damaging failures.
Last month G4S, the world’s biggest security group, agreed to repay 108.9 million pounds to the government after overcharging it on a contract to tag criminals. That mistake followed its failure to provide enough guards for the London Olympics in 2012.
The failures forced the company to overhaul its management. It has made 28 senior appointments and has embarked on a restructuring and investment scheme to revive its fortunes and win the trust of the government, a customer worth almost 10 percent of its 7.4 billion pound annual revenues.
Shares in the firm, which runs services from prison management and border control to cash transportation, are still down 14 percent on a year ago. At 1514 GMT they were flat at 249.3p.
The tagging fiasco – when alongside rival outsourcer Serco the firm was found to have charged for monitoring criminals who were dead, in prison or had not been tagged at all – led to a ban since last July on new government work and an ongoing investigation into it by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
In a statement, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said Britain’s change in stance on G4S was independent of the SFO probe and would remain subject to monitoring changes the firm had made to ensure they stayed in place.
“As long as that plan is implemented… we’re happy that we feel more confident in awarding them the work,” a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said.
G4S boss Ashley Almanza, chief executive since June, said it was an important milestone for the company in rebuilding its relationship with the government.
“Our priorities now are to deliver outstanding service on existing contracts and to grow our business by competing for new government services,” he said in a statement.
After a similar overhaul, Serco was given the green light to win new government work in January.
(Additional reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton and Elaine Hardcastle)
By Neil Maidment