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Uber has approached Grubhub on takeover deal

Uber Technologies Inc., one of the world's leading ride-sharing services and operator of UberEats,  had made an overture to buy rival food delivery service Grubhub Inc., according to Bloomberg. 

The talks would create one of the nation's leading food delivery services, which would challenge rival DoorDash and put the squeeze on Postmates, a food and retail delivery service that is heavily used in many western U.S. markets. 

The initial Bloomberg story did not specifically address a purchase price, but noted that Grubhub is valued at about $4.5 billion, while Uber, which includes ride-sharing, delivery and fintech arms, has a market capitalization of $59 billion. The Wall Street Journal later reported the negotiations as well. A deal could be reached sometime later this month. 

Grubhub shares briefly halted trading early Tuesday afternoon shortly after the report on speculation of the deal. Shares were up 33% at $62.39 in mid-afternoon trading. 

The company declined to comment on the specific report, but issued a general statement: "We remain squarely focused on deliverying shareholder value," the company said in a company release issued after the article. "As we have consistently said, consolidation could make sense in our industry, and, like any responsible company, we are always looking at value enhancing opportunities."

The statement went on to say that Grubhub remains confident in its current strategy and recent activities to support restaurants in the current environment.

The talks come at a critical time for the restaurant meal delivery services, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced restaurants across the country to close their indoor dining areas since March and more than half of the U.S. states have either launched or announced plans to begin allowing small businesses to reopen. 

A number of local governments have placed caps on commissions charged by the delivery services, saying that small independent restaurants are being squeezed by the third-party charges. 

Michael Levin, a partner at Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, said he has no independent knowledge of any talks beyond what has been reported. He said first-quarter data found that consumers tended to utilize more than one app. DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub were on half of consumers' smartphones with Postmates being on one-third. 

Consumer Intelligence Research, however, found that Uber Eats and DoorDash were used by about one-third of food delivery customers, with Grubhub coming in third at 20% and Postmates trailing behind at about 10%. 

"It would mean consolidation in what is today a somewhat fragmented business, as our earlier analysis suggests the deal would combine the first and third-ranked competitors," Levin said in an email. "It probably wouldn't make a big deal to consumers, who tend to have and use multiple apps."

CIRP based their research on 500 U.S. restaurant delivery customers that ordered from at least once service between January to March. 

App Annie, however, said that UberEats was the number one worldwide app download in the food and grocery delivery app category during March and April, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. DoorDash was second and Grubhub came in eighth.