Sometimes it makes sense to be hostile

Tomorrow's Business

This morning, a South African company I’d never heard of called Prosus made a surprise £4.9 billion cash bid for Just Eat.

This offer disrupts, to say the least, Just Eat’s plans for a share-based merger with Takeaway.com.

Prosus said it approached the Just East board but “have not managed to reach agreement”. So it made the terms of the offer public, in effect going direct to shareholders to see what they think.

It’s fairly clear that this is what we call a hostile bid. There’s a definition on Investopedia

which makes the point plain.

The FT quickly called it a hostile bid. So did the Evening Standard.

I bet every newspaper tomorrow will use the same phrase. In fact, the only people who aren’t are Prosus and its flaks.

They prefer the words “non-recommended” or “unsolicited”.

I can’t really see the point in this sort of argument, since it’s one you can’t really win.

Furthermore, this is now a really interesting story. Prosus hopes to win the Just Eat board’s approval, at which point the offer stops being hostile. Until then, the hostility is part of the drama that ensures lots of coverage.

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