Prosus has lowered the bar on its hostile takeover offer for food delivery giant Just Eat, but refused to offer sceptical shareholders more money as a bidding war intensified.
The investment firm’s boss, Bob van Dijk, reduced his goal to convince shareholders who own 90% of Just Eat to vote for the deal, to 75%. It is the same target as a rival bid from Takeaway.com, which it agreed with the board in August.
“We wanted to put our offer on par with Takeaway’s offer,” he said in a call with journalists on Monday morning.
The two Dutch firms have been battling it out over Just Eat since last month, when Prosus tried to hijack Takeaway’s deal for the London-listed food delivery company.
We believe that under-investment ... has opened the door for Just Eat's own delivery competitors to steal a march, and this has led to Just Eat losing market shareBob van Dijk, Prosus
Mr van Dijk saw no need to increase his 710p-per-share offer, or £4.9 billion, in order to win over investors.
“We believe it offers fair value and gives shareholders certainty,” he said, contrasting his cash bid with Takeaway’s offer, which will be paid in shares.
However, the board of Just Eat stuck to its guns, once again rejecting Mr van Dijk’s bid to win its business.
“The board believes that Just Eat is a leading strategic asset in the food delivery sector and the Prosus offer fails to appropriately reflect the quality of Just Eat,” it said.
Takeaway’s shares have fallen from 83.55 euros (£71.99) to 73.20 euros (£63.07) since its deal was announced in August.
Traditional delivery businesses like Just Eat have faced challenges from newer rivals in recent years, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Mr van Dijk said Just Eat had failed to invest in products, technology, marketing and its own delivery capabilities.
“We believe that under-investment in these areas has opened the door for Just Eat’s own delivery competitors to steal a march, and this has led to Just Eat losing market share,” he said.
But the Dutchman’s bid has attracted criticism from Just Eat’s board, which said last month that it “significantly undervalues” the business.
This sentiment has since been echoed by Cat Rock, the activist investor which owns a 3% stake in Just Eat.
Prosus has met several shareholders, and will speak to more in the coming days, Mr van Dijk added.