Dutch internet conglomerate Prosus has made an unsolicited £4.9bn (€5.7bn) cash bid to buy food delivery firm Just Eat, using its superior financial firepower to try to scupper an all-share offer from Dutch rival Takeaway. Analysts said a bidding war for Just Eat between the two Dutch-based suitors now looms.
The offer is the first significant move by chief executive Bob van Dijk since Prosus went public last month, creating a European tech firm with a market cap of $120bn (€107bn), largely due to its 31% stake in Chinese internet and gaming company Tencent.
Mr Van Dijk said that the all-cash offer was worth £4.9bn, a 20% premium to Takeaway’s offer based on its closing price of its shares before the offer. Takeaway shares have fallen 15% since its agreed offer was announced in July.
The Prosus chief executive said he had been unable to reach an agreement during talks with Just Eat’s board, so he was making the announcement to give its shareholders the opportunity to consider a higher bid.
“We don’t believe we’re going hostile,” Mr Van Dijk said. “We haven’t been able to agree on a proposal, but we believe that shareholders will find this offer attractive,” he said.
He said that the companies have some overlap in Brazil, and Prosus has the greater financial resources needed to invest and develop Just Eat’s business.
Just Eat said the Prosus bid “significantly under-values” the company and had been unanimously rejected by the board. It said it stood by the deal it agreed with Takeaway, saying that was based on “compelling strategic rationale”.
In a statement, the British company said it had engaged with Prosus and rejected several lower offers from the firm before it announced its unsolicited bid.
That was “always a strong possibility, given the increasingly low-ball offer from Takeaway.com”, Neil Wilson of Markets.com said.
“A bidding war is now on. You may need more like 750p to sort this out,” he said. Just Eat shares soared over almost 25% to 735p, above Prosus’s offer price.