The battle to acquire MoneyGram International Inc appears to have gone in favor of Chinese financial company Ant Financial after it raised its bid by over 36 percent to beat a rival offer. The revised bid has been backed by MoneyGram’s board.
Its latest bid is valued at $18 a share in cash, up from the previous offer of $13.25, putting the value of MoneyGram’s stock at $1.2 billion. It denotes a 9 percent premium to MoneyGram’s latest share price.
Controlled by Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma and an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Ant Financial hopes to build its strength in global remittances and develop a robust cross-border network. It has already carried out a number of acquisitions in Asia towards this end goal. The company now has an interest in payment companies across Thailand, South Korea, India and the Philippines.
Ant Financial’s increased offer is a response to an unanticipated bid coming from U.S. based firm Euronet Worldwide Inc which highlighted security concerns from MoneyGram falling into the hands of the Chinese. Euronet’s offer was made last month and was priced at $15.20 a share.
Euronet announced earlier this week that the MoneyGram board had rejected its offer and added that it was planning to review the final deal agreement between Ant Financial and MoneyGram.
Doug Feagin, Ant Financial’s international president stated that by raising its offer, the company was making its intention of completing the deal clear. However the deal could face regulatory hurdles particularly from the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), which reviews deals in the United States for national security risks. American lawmakers have urged the CFIUS to make sure the deal is scrutinized thoroughly.
In a statement, Kirk Boodry, an analyst at New Street Research said “You have two issues; what are MoneyGram shareholders going to receive? And that’s what Ant Financial is addressing with a revised bid. Politics is the other issue that really stands out here and Chinese companies have struggled to get deals done in the U.S”.
Analysts however believe that while the CFIUS does have the power to hold up a deal, it might not do so in this case as the Chinese bid is supported by MoneyGram. Euronet has claimed Chinese ownership may compromise the access of law enforcement in cases involving MoneyGram where the likes of terror financing investigations are concerned.
Ant Financial has sought to address these concerns by pointing out that data collected on U.S-based MoneyGram users will continue to be held on servers located within U.S. and that MoneyGram will continue to operate as an independent unit.