Leawood-based Euronet moves forward in fight with Chinese company for control of MoneyGram

There’s a battle for control of Dallas-based MoneyGram International Inc.
There’s a battle for control of Dallas-based MoneyGram International Inc. MCT

Euronet Worldwide’s proposal to outbid a Chinese behemoth for control of Dallas-based MoneyGram International Inc. moved a step forward on Monday.

MoneyGram’s board of directors announced that Euronet’s bid last week to buy the money services company for $15.20 per share “could reasonably be expected to result in a...superior proposal” compared with a competing offer of $13.25 a share from Ant Financial earlier this year.

The announcement said MoneyGram’s board plans to further consider Euronet’s all-cash offer, including holding discussions with the company.

Euronet’s $15.20 a share offer places a nearly $2 billion value on MoneyGram, according to analyst Peter Heckmann, with Avondale Partners.

Meanwhile Monday, Ant Financial reportedly is considering whether to make a higher offer for MoneyGram, according to a Bloomberg News report that cited unidentified sources.

The source said it’s likely that Ant will either counter the bid with a higher offer, or say that it will wait until Euronet finishes carrying out its due diligence before delivering a rival bid.

Leawood-based Euronet is a financial payments company that has a network of more than 35,000 ATMs and 800,000 point-of-sale terminals. Euronet had previously bid for MoneyGram in 2008 and again in 2013.

Ant Financial serves more than 450 million customers and provides services from wealth management and insurance to credit checks and consumer loans. It is controlled by Chinese billioniaire Jack Ma, who also runs online merchant Alibaba Group.

Ant's plan to take over MoneyGram was presented by the two companies as a fait accompli when it was announced on Jan. 26, with the deal expected to be completed this year once regulators approved it. That acquisition was aimed at helping Ant expand outside China, but it probably faces scrutiny from a Treasury Department agency that reviews foreign purchases of U.S. companies.

MoneyGram said in its announcement Monday that its board still supports the proposed merger with Ant, and directors have not made any recommendation regarding Euronet’s higher offer.

Heckmann wrote in a report Monday that Euronet’s bid represented not only a 15 percent premium to Ant’s offer, but offered a “much clearer path” to regulatory approval.

“Euronet, unlike Ant, will not need to undergo Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States review” to acquire MoneyGram, Heckmann said.

He also said the deal appeared to be “very attractive” for Euronet shareholders.

Euronet did not have an immediate comment on Monday. Last week, the company said a combination with MoneyGram would lead to more services at more locations and would save $60 million in cost synergies.