Nick Buckles is not one of the FTSE fatcats who saw their pay rise by a half last year. His actually fell, although at £1.42m  (down from  £1.66m) he’s hardly likely to be a burden on the state any time soon. The harder question is whether he is likely to be seeking “other opportunities” after G4S, the company he runs, pulled out of a barmy deal to become the west’s second-largest employer.

G4S wanted to buy another set of initials, ISS, on the doubtful logic that its expertise in shifting cash around the place could be extended to cleaning the world’s loos. As a modest adventure, this might have been an interesting, slightly risky, step-out, but ISS is far too big to qualify for that. The price tag the private equity owners, Goldman Sachs and  EQT Partners, demanded was £5.2 billion. G4S needed a stonking seven-for-six rights issue at a knockdown price and a massive bank loan to raise the cash.

No wonder the shareholders were revolting.As we learned today, they were given just one hour to consider the deal, in depth of course, before Buckles pressed the launch button. To make life a little more exciting, it required a 75% majority of shareholders voting in favour to proceed. What on earth were the advisers, Deutsche Bank, Greenhill and Hoare Govett thinking of? Oh, silly question.The fees, of course.

When Buckles aborted the mission on Monday night, the bulk of those fees evaporated, leaving a residue of a mere £50 million in costs to G4S. You have to shift a lot of cash about to be able to keep that much, but as Nils Pratley points out, sorry is not in your modern chief executive’s vocabulary. Buckles may survive, but the moral of the story is: if Goldman Sachs is selling something, you shouldn’t buy it.