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The food fight between Takeaway and Prosus looks to be gathering pace after the latest bids for takeaway chain Just Eat. Prosus upped its bid from 740p per share to 800p and then Dutch rival Takeaway.com raised its offer from 705p to 900p per share. If the revised Takeaway.com offer is successful, it would leave Just Eat shareholders owning 57.5 per cent of the chain, up from 52.1 per cent previously. The bidding war has sent Just Eat’s shares up to 823.20p at the time of writing, so how is this likely to play out and what could it mean for shareholders? Prosus said its offer would provide investors with “outstanding and certain value” and Takeaway.com says it believes its own offer ‘provides Just Eat shareholders with tremendous upside.’ Takeaway.com also says it would consider selling Just Eat’s 33 per cent stake in South American chain, iFood, and returning half of the proceeds to shareholders. Although Just Eat investors have until 10 January to decide on the competing bids, Takeaway.com said it has already received 41 per cent of acceptances from shareholders, putting the 50 per cent threshold for securing the deal within its sights.
Solid earnings figures and a name change have sent beleaguered sports chain, Sports Direct’s share price soaring this week – up 30 per cent at one point, now standing at 312.40p. Prolific CEO, Mike Ashley, has rechristened the chain, Frasers Group, in a bid to upscale its image, and the group also posted a pre-tax profit increase of 160 per cent to £193.4m. Group revenue was up 14 per cent to £2.04 bn, partly down to a 79.2 per cent jump in premium lifestyle because of new Flannels stores and a full year contribution from House of Fraser. So, could the sports chain be fighting fit again or is it too early to tell? Against testing times for the high street, the figures look good – as well as the increased profit, guidance was given for between five and 15 per cent underlying growth in EBITDA which should please investors. Ashley also said that the group is starting to see ‘green shoots of recovery’ at ailing acquisition House of Fraser and suggested that the £647m Belgian tax enquiry against the sporting chain is about to come to a satisfactory conclusion. The proposed rebrand has had a mixed reaction though – analysts Liberium have upped their price target for the stock to 550p and Hargreaves Lansdowne described the results as ‘a mild Christmas miracle’. However, Hargreaves Lansdowne went on to say that its too soon to tell if this move will be enough to fuel the chain’s recovery, and other analysts remain unconvinced about the sports chain’s ability to aim for a premium market. Russ Mould from AJ Bell points out that Ashley “will have to walk a tightrope to ensure he does nothing to undermine his premium brands” if upscaling is to be successful.
Educational publisher, Pearson, has also had a share price boost this week, rising almost three per cent in the wake of the news that it will sell its remaining stake in publishing group Penguin. The news of the £530m sale coupled with an announcement that Chief Executive, John Fallon, will retire next year seems to have restored a little faith from investors with share prices now standing at 627.40p at the time of writing. So, is it a good time to buy into Pearson or could this be the extent of its growth? The publisher has seen turbulent times lately as hard copy academic textbooks have fallen out of favour to make way for online learning resources. Desultory sales have led to stock falling more than 40 per cent since Fallon took over the reins in 2013, and his efforts to move towards a new digital platform have not been quick enough for some investors. Three months ago, Pearson’s shares crashed to their all-time low since 2017, and analysts predict organic sales will fall 0.6% this year. Most analysts are welcoming the news of ‘a fresh perspective’ to try and transform the publishing giant but warn that Fallon’s successor, whoever that may be, will have some tough tasks ahead.
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