Neil Woodford Backs G4S Boss

LONDON -- Nick Buckles, the embattled CEO of G4S (ISE: GFS.L) , probably feels friends are in short supply at the moment. But at least he can count on the support of legendary fund manager Neil Woodford.

In an interview with Reuters, Woodford said: "It is my view that the interests of shareholders are best served by keeping Nick Buckles in this business because his track record is excellent. I do not want to throw all of that away on the back of this failure of local management to deliver one contract, one of literally thousands and thousands of contracts that this company has around the world."

That seems somewhat charitable to me. Not only was this contract worth nearly 300 million pounds, but it was also to be used as a springboard for contracts at similar events around the world, like the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. That plan, as you might expect, looks to be in tatters.

There will also be a lot of pressure on the U.K. government to look elsewhere when the existing deals it has with G4S come up for renewal. That said, Woodford knows G4S far better than I, as he is the company's second-largest investor.

GFS share price over the last week


Reuters added that Woodford also supported Buckles last year in the wake of G4S's failed bid for ISS, even though he wasn't in favor of the proposed 5 billion pound acquisition. That failed bid led to the departure of G4S's previous chairman, Alf Duch-Pedersen, who was replaced just a few weeks ago by John Connolly, who ran Deloitte in the U.K. for many years.

Following yesterday's Parliamentary grilling, it looks like Buckles will remain at the helm until the end of the Olympics. Despite the support of Woodford and other City investors, he may then find that political and media pressure will quickly lead to his departure.

If you want to find out more about Neil Woodford and how he delivered an impressive 347% total return during the 15 years to Dec. 31, 2011, you can download our latest free report called "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor."

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