Europe’s Just Eat Takeaway.com NV has agreed to acquire US-based Grubhub Inc for US$7.3 billion, in a deal that would create one of the world’s largest meal-delivery companies as the COVID-19 pandemic drives a surge in orders.
Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeaway said it would pay US$75.15 per share for Grubhub in an all-stock deal.
The deal sidelines Uber Technologies Inc, which had been in acquisition talks with Grubhub for months. Political pressure raised questions about whether US regulators would approve such a deal.
Grubhub is to launch Just Eat Takeaway into the US market, broadening its already-global reach that includes Australia, Brazil and Canada, in addition to its home base in Europe.
Jitse Groen, the Dutch billionaire who created Takeaway in 2000 in his university dorm room, has been looking to expand aggressively over the last year.
Less than two months ago, Takeaway received antitrust clearance from the UK for its US$8 billion acquisition of Just Eat.
Grubhub chief executive Matt Maloney helped start the company in 2004. He first met Groen and Maloney a few years later. They describe one another as kindred spirits.
“We have the same company on different continents,” Maloney said in an interview on Wednesday. “There’s this mutual cosmic alignment.”
In 2013, Maloney led a merger of Grubhub and Seamless to create what was then a dominant food delivery Web site, but the company has fallen far since then.
DoorDash Inc, the current leader in the US, and Uber have eaten up market share, leaving Grubhub with 23 percent as of the end of April, market research firm Second Measure said.
Food delivery was one of the few parts of the economy to benefit from the spread of COVID-19 this year, thanks to people spending more time at home.
Profit margins are tight or nonexistent in food delivery due to stiff competition to sign the most popular restaurants and add customers.
Gross food sales for Grubhub rose 8 percent to US$1.6 billion in the first quarter, and it reported a net loss of about US$33 million.
Uber’s gross bookings for food delivery increased 52 percent to US$4.68 billion in the same period, but the division’s loss also rose.
Analysts have long said the unprofitable model in food delivery is unsustainable and expected consolidation.
Grubhub’s largest shareholder, Caledonia Investments PLC, expressed support for the sale.
“This was timed really well with Grubhub at a depressed price,” said Will Vicars, cochief investment officer at the Sydney-based firm, which also owns shares in the acquirer. “It gives Just Eat Takeaway another important profit pool, and they have shown they can win against Uber in markets like Germany and the Netherlands.”
For Uber, losing the deal is a blow to the company’s plan to increase revenue and eventually turn a profit from food delivery. That strategy was especially urgent with the pandemic lifting food delivery, while decimating Uber’s main business of ride-hailing.
The firm has cut jobs and side businesses as a result. It was relying on deals to achieve a top position in the markets where it operates.
In an e-mailed statement, a spokesman for Uber said the company believes the industry needs consolidation, but that it is not interested in “doing any deal, at any price, with any player.”
Just Eat Takeaway said Maloney would join the board and run the North America business.
“Matt and I are the two remaining food delivery veterans in the sector, having started our respective businesses at the turn of the century, albeit on two different continents,” Groen said in a statement. “Both of us have a firm belief that only businesses with high-quality and profitable growth will sustain in our sector.”
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