Interserve, employer of 80,000 cleaners, carers, probation supervisors and construction workers, have reported that their
2017 second-half operating profits would be half of what they were last year and the business was likely to breach its banking covenants. The shares fell 25 per cent. They had already been halved by a board warning that something was amiss earlier this month. Since then, Debbie White, its new chief executive, and Mark Whiteling, even newer finance
director, have been sweeping through Interserve’s numbers.
Interserve’s shares are now about 67p, less than a tenth of where they were in 2014 when the group bought Rentokil’s office cleaning business for £250m. The group is worth less than £100m now. Interserve’s net debt will be £500m by the year end. That is five times the current value of its equity.