Less than a year after Grubhub was tossed around like a hot potato, the company that ended up buying the food ordering platform is looking to sell. Just Eat Takeaway.com, GrubHub's current owner, is reportedly exploring a sale, so get those oven mitts ready.
The European company is facing pressure from shareholders to sell all or part of its U.S. arm. Just Eat bought Grubhub for $7.3 billion at the time, and its market value now sits at about $5.8 billion. The dip in valuation is due in part to demand for services like food delivery dropping off as pandemic-related restrictions wane. In a trading update, Just Eat said order fell 1% in the first quarter, with an even steeper decline of 5% in North America.
The company's board said in that update that it "confirms its alignment with shareholders in wanting to both create and realize value from the company’s highly attractive portfolio of assets." The European company couldn't guarantee a sale or timeline for such a move, but it said "further announcements will made as and when appropriate."
"We are in talks with people around this (a sale), but I need to caution that doesn't automatically lead to a transaction," Just Eat CEO Jitse Groen said. Groen added that the company hired banks to look into a sale, and buyers have showed strong interest.
GrubHub took a winding road to get to this point. It began looking for a buyer in early 2020, a few months before the pandemic shuttered the world. Both Uber and Delivery Hero both showed interest, with things heating up in May 2020. Those talks fell apart a couple of months later, and that's when Just Eat emerged as a buyer. The company finalized the purchase of GrubHub in June 2021. The marriage has been rocky from the start, though, at least in some shareholders' eyes.
Even before Tuesday, Just Eat investors have pressed the company to sell Grubhub. Activist investor Cat Rock Capital asked Just Eat to sell in October, saying it needs to "refocus its business on Europe." At the time, Groen said Just Eat wouldn't look into a sale and instead look for "strategic partnerships." But with orders down and the world continuing to reopen, it looks like the calculus has changed.