Security company G4S stepped up its fight against a £3bn hostile takeover from smaller rival GardaWorld on Monday as it highlighted the resilience of its earnings despite the coronavirus pandemic. In an attempt to persuade investors that a 190p-a-share offer from the Canadian group is too low, G4S said profits in the first eight months of this year were ahead of 2019, despite pandemic-related disruption.

GardaWorld, based in Montreal and backed by private equity firm BC Partners, has been rebuffed by G4S management three times. G4S is about four times larger than GardaWorld with a turnover of £7.8bn versus £2.1bn for the smaller group.

Stephen Rawlinson, analyst at Applied Value, said the eight-month figures were “Good news” for G4S. “The trouble is, it is two-edged as on the one hand it says that incumbent management are no fools and the market is good, people need security even in a Covid world, but on the other hand it emboldens potential buyers. Either way, the G4S holders are, at least for now, winners.”