CMA add last minute ingredient to Just Eat merger

CMA add last minute ingredient to Just Eat merger

Less than 24 hours before Takeaway.com N.V. was due to complete its merger with Just Eat plc, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued an invitation to comment on the transaction from any interested parties. The CMA is expected to officially open its phase 1 investigation in due course. The CMA is concerned that the proposed transaction will lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the UK food-delivery market.

Takeaway and Just Eat had, on 10 January 2020, seen off a rival bid by Prosus N.V. Takeaway. In addition, the duo had planned to rename the company ‘Just Eat Takeaway.com N.V.’ and trading in the enlarged group was scheduled to take place on 27 January 2020. The only condition outstanding for the deal to complete was for the enlarged group’s new and existing shares to be admitted to trading on 24 January 2020. However, the CMA intervened less than a day before such conditions were due to be satisfied.

The CMA’s is concerned by the fact Takeaway used to operate in the UK market. It shut down its UK operations in August 2016 due to stiff competition from Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Since then, it has become one of Europe’s largest operators. The CMA believes that, without the merger, Takeaway might have re-entered the UK market and therefore compete with rivals such as Just Eat.

The CMA foresees that competition might be reduced if the proposed transaction goes ahead as there will be one less competitor in the market. Takeaway has denied that it had any plans to re-enter the UK market prior to its merger with Just Eat.

The announcement comes as the CMA continues to carry out its phase 2 investigation into Amazon’s acquisition of a minority stake in Deliveroo. This transaction is also looking at whether a new-entrant would be denied the chance to compete in this increasingly growing and profitable business. The food delivery space is seeing consolidation all around the world, with Takeaway having bought Delivery Hero’s German business last year, and more recently, Uber Eats selling its Indian division to rival Zomato. The CMA’s intervention is therefore significant as it might impede the parties’ ability to consolidate, cut costs and increase profit.

The CMA has opened a public consultation, inviting comments from interested parties until 6 February 2020.

Market Tracker will continue to monitor this transaction as it develops. 

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