United Kingdom

G4S seeks new chairman as it fights off Canadian suitor

Takeover target G4S has kicked off the search for a new chairman.

The British security firm is looking for someone to succeed John Connolly, who has been chairman for eight years.

The hunt comes as G4S fends off Canadian predator Garda World, which last month tabled a 190p a share takeover bid worth £2.9billion.

Embattled British security firm G4S is looking for someone to succeed John Connolly (pictured), who has been chairman for eight years

US rival Allied Universal Security Services has also approached G4S, raising the prospect of a bidding war. 

As chairman, Connolly will play a key role in determining the future of G4S. And with his tenure drawing to a close, either selling G4S or securing it as an independent company could be his final act.

G4S chief executive Ashley Almanza said: 'We do have a succession plan. We've started well in time, and we are confident there will be a good successor.' 

Connolly, 70, took over as chairman of G4S in 2012 having risen to the top of Big Four auditor Deloitte, as Britain's best-paid accountant.

He has overseen a string of scandals, from its failure to supply enough security guards to the London Olympics to charging taxpayers for tagging offenders who were dead or back in prison.

But he has held on to his £382,000 a year job, adding to the fortune he made while at Deloitte, where one of his underlings was disgraced banker Fred Goodwin.

Shortly after Goodwin became chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2001, the lender awarded the multi-million audit contract to Deloitte.

While Deloitte raked in more than £200million from the plum job, it failed to raise the alarm on the mountain of toxic debt on the balance sheet.

Earlier in his career, Connolly suffered a serious blow. The collapse of investment broker Barlow Clowes in 1988 after massive fraud was one of the biggest City's biggest scandals. 

Its downfall saddled taxpayers with a £150million bill as they paid compensation to investors who lost their savings.

Following an investigation, Connolly was judged to have signed off Barlow Clowes accounts with a lack of professional 'efficiency, conduct and competence'.

Deloitte took issue with the criticism of Connolly who was subsequently appointed chief executive and global chairman.

Connolly and Almanza are now leading the battle against Garda World, which is backed by private equity firm BC Capital. They say the bid 'significantly undervalues' G4S – and dismissed its suitor's criticisms as 'opportunistic' and 'scare-mongering'.

Garda World boss Stephan Cretier said he would 'educate' shareholders on the true state of G4S. Connolly retorted wryly that a suitor should not be too negative about a firm he is trying to buy.

Around a quarter of shareholders have already rejected Garda World's offer.

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