Investor Cat Rock points way towards Just Eat merger with Takeaway.com

Investor Cat Rock points way towards Just Eat merger with Takeaway.com

REUTERS: Just Eat shareholder Cat Rock on Monday urged the online food delivery firm to pursue merger talks with an industry peer such as Takeaway.com, saying it did not trust the board to get the appointment of a new CEO right.

Cat Rock, which has stakes in both Just Eat and Dutch-listed Takeaway.com, said Just Eat would attract significant strategic interest from others in the industry.

In a letter to the Just Eat board, it cited Takeaway.com CEO Jitse Groen as saying that the UK was one of the best markets in Europe and that he intended to be active in consolidation.

The letter said there was a clear rationale for a Just Eat to combine with a peer.

"A merger could make Just Eat dramatically more formidable as it competes to secure its market position against Uber, Deliveroo and others," the letter said http://pdf.reuters.com/htmlnews/htmlnews.asp.

Cat Rock's statement comes only three weeks after Just Eat CEO Peter Plumb left the company in the wake of criticism from Cat Rock and some other shareholders about his plan to grow earnings.

Plumb's strategy demanded increased investment, causing earnings growth to slow sharply, and Cat Rock has complained the company had become the world's worst performing online food delivery stock.

"Cat Rock argues that a merger with a well-run industry peer would be a far better outcome for shareholders than relying on the board to choose a new CEO, particularly given the board's poor record of CEO selection," said Connecticut-based Cat Rock which has a stake of around 1.9 percent in Just Eat.

Shares in Just Eat rose 1.9 percent to 717 pence in London by 0930 GMT, valuing the company at around 4.9 billion pounds (US$6.3 billion).

Takeway.com, in which Cat Rock owns a 4.9 percent stake, has a market value of around 2.5 billion euros (US$2.8 billion).

INDUSTRY MOVES

A potential merger would come at a time of consolidation in the market, with Germany's Delivery Hero selling a Swiss business to Takeaway.com last June and its operations in Germany to the same firm in December.

"The letter was sent outside our knowledge. We don't have any comments with regard to the content of it," a Takeaway.com spokesperson said.

Cat Rock also said in December that Just Eat, which delivers meals from local takeaways as well as big brands such as Burger King, KFC and Subway, should consider selling businesses such as its stake in Brazilian market leader iFood. It also wanted executive bonuses tied to a three-year performance plan.

Cat Rock said on Monday that if Just Eat continues to ignore shareholder feedback, it intends to take further action in advance of the annual meeting scheduled for May 1.

Just Eat's stock shed a quarter of its value in 2018, after enjoying rapid expansion since its 2014 float. The slump forced it out of London's bluechip index in December.

Just Eat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(US$1 = 0.8839 euros)

(US$1 = 0.7751 pounds)

(Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Keith Weir)

Source: Reuters

Bookmark