Naspers chief executive Bob van Dijk says Prosus has invested $2.8 billion (R41.32bn) across more than 40 markets since 2016 to build a global food delivery business in partnership with some of the leading players in the world. Photo: Reuters
DURBAN – Prosus, the internet assets division of South African group Naspers, has made an audacious £4.9 billion (R92.6bn) hostile bid for UK-listed Just Eat, entering a bidding war that could disrupt its merger with Dutch rival Takeaway.com. Prosus is offering 710 pence (R135.75) a share, representing a 20 percent premium to Just Eat’s closing price on Monday.

The bid comes hot on the heels of Naspers spinning off and listing Prosus separately in Amsterdam last month.

Naspers chief executive Bob van Dijk said: “We are very excited about the long-term potential of the food delivery space and it is a sector we are committed to. We believe our global experience and resources can help Just Eat to achieve its significant potential.

“Our plan is to support the Just Eat management team, with whom we have worked closely as joint investors in iFood to deliver on the exciting opportunities to grow the business.”

Van Dijk said Prosus was one of the leading global operators in the food delivery sectors. It had invested $2.8bn (R41.32bn) across more than 40 markets since 2016 to build a global food delivery business in partnership with some of the leading players in the world, including iFood in Latin America, Swiggy in India, and Delivery Hero, which operates in 41 markets. The Just Eat Group operates a leading global hybrid marketplace for online food delivery to more than 27 million consumers with more than 107 000 restaurant partners across the globe.

Peter Takaendesa, a portfolio manager at Mergence Investment Managers, said food delivery was one of the three key markets that Prosus had identified as its core growth areas of e-commerce.

“Given that Prosus is offering an all cash deal to Just Eat shareholders and its offer is 20 percent higher than the Just Eat board’s preferred bid from rival Takeaway.com, our view is that Prosus clearly has a better deal for Just Eat shareholders,” Takaendesa said.

However, he said that whether it was a fair price or not depended on Just Eat shareholders’ risk tolerance and expected future returns from the growth of the food delivery market.

“Although Naspers is offering a 20 percent premium, there must be some value left on the table for them to extract in the long term as we believe it is unlikely that they are desperate to acquire Just Eat,” Takaendesa said.

He said that Just Eat’s share price had spiked higher to pass the Prosus’s offer price, as some investors were now expecting a bidding war between Prosus and Takeaway.com.

“If I were a Just Eat shareholder, I would accept whoever comes with the highest cash offer, as we believe valuations are currently high for companies in this sector and there may be an opportunity to re-enter the sector at cheaper levels over the medium term, especially if the global economy continues to slow,” Takaendesa said.

Neil Wilson, a chief market analyst at Markets.com, said Just Eat share price surged by 24 percent to 733p after receiving a counter bid from Prosus.

“The board of Just Eat has been engaged with Prosus, but already rejected lower bids, and it has been quick to reject this offer.

“The Prosus offer is in many ways very cheeky and even more low-ball. It is still under the 731p initial offer from Takeaway.com and, while it has been rejected, will certainly up the ante and could force Takeaway.com into raising its offer as it looks in a weakened position due to the stock’s decline,” Wilson said.

Prosus shares fell 1.01percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R1076.51.

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