Bottom Line: New broom sweeps in a fresh start

Elizabeth Fournier
LET’S move past the disappointing set of numbers that G4S released yesterday for a moment – investors certainly did – and take a closer look at Ashley Almanza, tasked with the unenviable job of turning the firm around after Nick Buckles fell on his sword in May.
Just three months into the role, Almanza has been busy. In his first results presentation yesterday he told analysts he’d visited many of the firm’s global operations – “sometimes more than once” – as well as finding time to offload some of the non-core assets that will help G4S boost its balance sheet by up to £250m by the end of the year. He’s also hired a dedicated COO – Eddie Aston – to take a closer look at the group’s risk profile, and launched a share placing that raised another £348m.
It’s an impressive accomplishment for someone who was promoted to the top job just a month after joining as finance chief. Even the team of big-hitting advisers he’s brought in to run the share placing (see below) proves the City is taking the firm seriously, something it seemed to find difficult under Almanza’s bouffant-haired predecessor.
Almanza can’t claim a clean bill of health for G4S just yet – and investors will wait keenly for a further update on the group’s strategic review in November, as well as the government’s inquiry into the pricing of contracts held by G4S and Serco. But it’s a strong start, and one that should keep the share price on a more even keel than in recent months.