Six weeks after billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial announced a plan to take over MoneyGram International Inc., Leawood-based Euronet Worldwide is swooping in with a higher bid.
Euronet is offering $15.20 a share for the money-transfer service, topping Ant’s $13.25 bid, according to a statement Tuesday.
Ant’s plan to take over MoneyGram was presented by the two companies as a fait accompli, with the deal expected to be completed this year once regulators approved it. That acquisition is supposed to help Ant expand outside China and probably faces scrutiny from a Treasury Department agency that reviews foreign purchases of U.S. companies.
Michael Brown, Euronet’s chief executive officer, said his bid is superior because it’s more likely to get approved.
“The Ant Financial transaction is fraught with uncertainty and challenges at every level,” Brown said on a conference call to discuss his bid. “We are committed and ready to move expeditiously.”
Tim Danaher, a spokesman for Ant at Brunswick Group, declined to comment. Michael Freitag, a spokesman for MoneyGram, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Since Brown helped found Euronet in 1994, the financial payments company has built a network of more than 35,000 ATMs and 800,000 point-of-sale terminals. He’s long coveted MoneyGram for its brand, bidding for it in 2008 and again in 2013.
The deal would allow both companies to offer more services at more locations and would save $60 million in cost synergies, according to a presentation on Euronet’s website.
Ant is a behemoth in China, where it serves more than 450 million customers and provides services from wealth management and insurance to credit checks and consumer loans. Formerly a part of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., it is still controlled by Ma. Ant was valued at $75 billion by Hong Kong investment group CLSA in September and is expected to go public this year.
Ant has been seeking to expand abroad as competition in its home market heats up.
The Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States would probably scrutinize a deal between Ant and MoneyGram. While the committee is unlikely to deem the MoneyGram takeover a national security threat, legal experts say, the deal could face more inspection than usual given President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric.
Andrew Jeffrey, an analyst at SunTrust Banks Inc., said in a note to investors that Euronet’s proposal is “superior in all ways.” The offer is higher, and the transaction would be more likely to close, he wrote.
A substantial portion of MoneyGram’s business could come under pressure from Trump’s stance on immigration and trade, because many immigrants use the firm to transfer money from the U.S. to their families.
Trump proposed a plan last year to cut off the remittances Mexican immigrants send home. Mexico represents about 10 percent of MoneyGram transactions, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.