Just Eat confirms it could be bought by Dutch rival

Just Eat and Takeaway.com are battling it out in Europe’s crowded food delivery market. But they could be ready to join forces.

The boards of London-based Just Eat and Dutch company Takeaway.com confirmed in statements Saturday that they are “in discussions regarding a possible” merger agreement.

“Any transaction may be structured as an offer for Just Eat by Takeaway.com but there can be no certainty that any offer will be made, nor as to the terms of any such offer should one be made,” Takeaway.com’s statement reads.

Takeaway.com has until Aug. 24 to announce whether it has “a firm intention” to make a bid for Just Eat, the companies said.

A joint company could give a huge boost to the companies’ standing in the crowded food delivery sector, which is dominated by companies like GrubHub and Uber Eats. Tech behemoth Amazon also signaled it wants to make a major play for the European market, and it’s poured millions into Deliveroo, one of the UK’s largest delivery apps. Earlier this month, UK regulators put further transactions on hold while they consider whether Amazon’s investments amount to a takeover.

The statements from Just Eat and Takeaway.com appeared to respond to an article published in Sky News earlier Saturday. The outlet reported that Takeaway.com and Just Eat spent weeks negotiating, and they could land on a £9 billion, or $11 billion, merger deal. Neither company confirmed a value for a potential agreement.

Takeaway.com, which is listed on Euronext Amsterdam, calls itself “the leading online food delivery marketplace in Continental Europe and Israel” and said it fulfilled 93.9 million orders last year. It also reported a 50% spike in orders during the first quarter of 2019, and its market value is about €5 billion ($5.6 billion).

By comparison, Just Eat said in financial documents that it handled 221.2 million orders in 2018 and has 26 million active customers across the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Brazil. Its current market value is about £4.3 billion ($5.3 billion).