James Moore: Danish distraction is why G4S is still in a right old mess

Outlook: This can't be allowed to continue. It is time for regulators to get a handle on it

Once upon a time there was a security business called Group Four which always seemed to be forgetting its keys. In fact it became a poster child for the critics of privatisation and contracting out, while offering a battalion of nasty left-wing comedians a ready supply of jokes.

Until it found a fairy godbanker who sprinkled a bit of pixie dust over it. "Lo," he said. "Here is some M&A so that you might create a shiny new company from a right old mess. And then you will call it G4S."

And so it came to pass. Except that nobody lived happily ever after because the ghost of Group 4 never quite went away. He hid in the godbanker's shadows and now he's come back to play, hitting G4S in quite the most horrible way.

There really is no higher-profile contract than the Olympic security detail and the company has made a real mess of it.

Is it any wonder? In many ways its boss, Nick Buckles, embodies the failings of the modern chief executive. When he should have been running the business he was cloistered with his fairy godbanker trying to secure yet another merger with the Danish cleaning company ISS.

G4S will probably deny that the two are linked. But when the boss is running the deal rather than running the company is it any wonder that things start slipping?

Top executives get dazzled by the megabucks they expect from the remuneration committee; bonuses for beating cost-savings targets, carefully and cynically set at the outset to make failure all but impossible. Salary rises for running a bigger company, with associated bloated long-term incentive schemes that pay out even if the results for shareholders turn sour.

Meanwhile, knowing what's coming, those slightly lower down the corporate food chain start to concentrate all their efforts on protecting their jobs rather than doing them.

We're now living with the result.

So are G4S's shareholders. At least they can console themselves with the thought that they were right to block the merger with ISS.

Just think where we would be if the deal had gone through. Had the bosses of G4S been spending all their time fitting a Danish square peg into their round hole not even all the former's battalions of cleaners would have been enough to deal with the resulting mess. Meanwhile Mr Buckles is going to be handed a poisoned apple on a plate by his chairman. And there'll be no fairy godbanker around to save him.

Watchdogs must speed up banking showdown

Another day, another batch of headlines to induce migraines in the Barclays boardroom.

This is the scandal that just won't go away and even if we're not learning much that is actually new any more there is a soap opera-like quality to the affair which is still offering enough twists and turns to make the average scriptwriter green with envy.

Yesterday's sport was the delicious Schadenfreude of watching another of Barclays' masters of the universe hauled in front of MPs in the form of former chief operating officer Jerry del Missier.

That together with more talk of criminal charges for those who sought to enter the financial casino with loaded dice. If the Serious Fraud Office can't (or won't) push the button then some jurisdiction or other in the United States surely will.

There'll be no screaming about one-sided extradition treaties or the supposed failings of the US justice system if they do.

In the meantime we're left to sit and wait for the next bank caught in the regulators' net to settle. One thing is certain: having watched the firestorm engulfing Barclays there isn't a bank boss in the world who wants to go next.

The trouble is while they battle to prolong the inevitable, confidence and trust in the banking system is ebbing away, taking London's reputation as a financial centre with it. This can't be allowed to continue. It's a recipe for disaster and it is time for regulators to get a handle on it.

They need to force the pace. A good start would be to provide a definitive list of who is involved together with progress details of the investigations into them.

This, it is true, could prove legally complicated to achieve. But it could perhaps be achieved via a voluntary agreement and that might not be so hard to reach, given that it would offer the protection of the herd to those who sign up.

Sky staying in the back seats with movies offer

It seems to be a day for contaminated brands, what with G4S and Barclays front and centre. And so to Sky. Although, let's be fair, despite the controversy that bedevils the Murdoch empire, Sky has taken no more than a glancing blow from it.

Despite all that, and its occasionally godawful customer service, the Sky name is a powerful one. Which makes the company's decision to excise it from its planned rival to movie rental and streaming services such as Netflix and Lovefilm seem slightly strange.

The new web-based service is to be called Now TV to differentiate it from Sky proper. By doing this it hopes to tempt some of the 13 million people who have so far shunned pay-TV and are perhaps understandably reluctant to let Sky get its hooks into them with one of its bewildering array of long-term contracts.

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky's managing director of sales and marketing, was pumping up Now TV to the marketing press yesterday by describing it as a guilt-free and fun way for those people to take advantage of the company's services. Kind of like an Innocent smoothie.

This rather looks like an admission that the Sky name comes with a fair bit of baggage, and not just from the phone-hacking affair.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary