A Grubhub-Uber tie-up would remake the food delivery landscape

Earlier today news broke that Uber is pursuing an acquisition of Grubhub. The global ride-hailing giant is worth a multiple of the American food delivery service, making the tie-up financially feasible, provided that a palatable price can be found for both parties.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news; you can read TechCrunch’s coverage of the deal here.

The deal could shake up the large, if generally unprofitable American food delivery market, a space contested by Uber’s Uber Eats service, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates. The combination could create the largest food delivery entity in terms of sales, changing leadership in its market and perhaps reducing competition.

Let’s unpack the deal in terms of its cost, why Uber has to pay in stock, how large a combined Uber Eats/Grubhub entity would be compared to its competition and why adjusted EBITDA helps us understand how this acquisition could give Uber’s bottom line a shot in the arm.

An all-stock purchase?

In normal times, this deal would likely be a mix of cash and stock. However, in 2020, with Uber’s market position being what it is, it’s likely that this would be an all-equity transaction. Why? Because Uber needs to conserve cash at nearly all costs. Its only historically profitable division (ride-hailing generates heavily adjusted profits) is in the tank, with ride volumes down as far as 80% in April, compared to its year-ago period.

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