Online takeaway firm Just Eat buys rivals from Rocket Internet
LONDON Feb 5 (Reuters) - Online takeaway food company Just Eat has agreed to buy rivals in Spain, Italy, Brazil and Mexico from Rocket Internet and foodpanda in a 125 million euro ($140 million) deal that extends its leadership in the fast-growing sector in the four countries.
Just Eat, which was founded in Denmark in 2001 and listed in London in 2014, enables customers to buy takeaway food from local restaurants on its online platform, which is increasingly accessed from smartphones.
Chief Executive David Buttress said Just Eat's strategy was to be the clear leader in all of its markets. "When we are in a market we want to be the big winner in that market," he said.
Just Eat, which had 6.9 million active users at the end of June and order growth of about 50 percent, was already number one in Spain, Mexico and Brazil, and was vying for the top spot in Italy, he said.
The deal, which Just Eat said would add 5 million pounds to 2017 core earnings, was positively received. The shares were trading up 7 percent at 385 pence at 1008 GMT on Friday, although they remain 25 percent off 13-month highs reached in December.
Rocket Internet's shares were up 9 percent at 21.15 euros.
Analysts at Jefferies said it was a "great deal" considering Rocket bought two of the businesses less than a year ago, and they valued those two at 130 million euros three months ago.
"We really like M&A that consolidates a competitive position, and brings forward the path to profitability," they said.
Oliver Samwer, Rocket internet's chief executive and founder, said the deals enabled all parties to focus on the markets in which they were strongest.
The Italian and Spanish businesses are owned by Rocket, while the Mexican and Brazilian operations are owned by foodpanda, a start-up backed by Rocket mainly focused on Asia, the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe. ($1 = 0.8937 euros) (Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Adrian Croft)
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