Grubhub strikes deal to merge with European food delivery giant

Grubhub struck a deal Wednesday to merge with the European food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway after talks to join forces with Uber fell apart and competition mounts in the industry.

Grubhub, based in Chicago, agreed to merge with Just Eat Takeaway in a deal that gives Grubhub shares an implied value of $75.15, which amounts to an implied total equity value of $7.3 billion on a fully diluted basis.

“When Grubhub and Seamless were founded, the online takeout industry didn’t exist in the U.S.,” said Matt Maloney, CEO and founder of Grubhub, in a statement. “Supported by Just Eat, we intend to accelerate our mission to be the fastest, best and most rewarding way to order food from your favourite local restaurants in North America and around the world.”

The deal comes after talks between Grubhub and Uber fell apart over concerns a merger between the food delivery and rideshare company would spur regulatory scrutiny. Several Democratic lawmakers expressed concerns over a deal that would merge two of the biggest food delivery companies.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., sent a letter to top antitrust officials last month urging them to investigate the proposed merger.

“Consumers should be able to look forward to a future in which online food delivery is more efficient, more innovative, and less expensive,” they said in the letter. “A merger of two of the three biggest rivals in an already concentrated market risks [deprives] consumers of that outcome by potentially eliminating competition between the existing market participants.”

The merger with is unlikely to draw as much concern among antitrust officials because it brings Grubhub under the wing of a business that operates outside of the U.S.

This will be’s second merger this year. In January, the Dutch company bought its British peer Just Eat in a $7.8 billion deal. The merged company now has leading positions in three of the world’s four largest profit pools for food delivery: the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands, Just Eat said in a statement.

Food delivery is a costly business. Maloney told investors in May that Grubhub assumes “significant costs on the restaurant’s behalf when we deliver their meals.” With the rollout of fee caps on food deliveries in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, the company has been pressed to fund deliveries by increasing consumer fees and spending less on marketing, which reduces orders.

The company said it has received more than 10 percent fewer orders since the fee caps were introduced.

“That’s not good for small businesses,” Maloney said. “And even worse, these lost orders also result in lost wages and tips for our delivery drivers.

With competitors like Postmates and DoorDash, which are backed by Softbank, Grubhub’s business has been in a bind. Demand for food delivery has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, but Grubhub’s losses have mounted. The company reported a net loss of $33.4 million in the first quarter of 2020.

“If you’re a company that’s losing a lot of money, you have a choice, you give up growth or you try to get to profitability or maintain that we are investing for growth story to keep raising money,” Maloney told investors in February. “It’s not clear when or even if things are going to change.”

Maloney will join the Just Eat management board and will lead the its North American businesses. Grubhub’s two current directors will join Just Eat’s supervisory board. The companies expect the transaction to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

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