U.S. firm outbids Chinese giant in effort to buy MoneyGram


U.S. electronic payments company Euronet Worldwide just offered $1 billion to buy national rival MoneyGram, potentially sparking a bidding war with Chinese competitor Ant Financial.

MoneyGram said it "will carefully review and consider" Euronet's unsolicited offer. The Dallas-based company is one of the most popular avenues for sending money from the U.S. to Mexico and other countries.

MoneyGram stock jumped nearly 25% following the new bid.

Related: Chinese giant buys U.S. firm that does Mexico money transfers

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA), announced last month it would acquire MoneyGram for about $880 million.

But this isn't just about the money. Euronet -- based in Leawood, Kansas -- is arguing a domestic takeover of MoneyGram would face fewer regulatory hurdles than a bid from a Chinese company.

"The proposal offers stockholders a clear and significantly more certain path to a faster closing," the company said in a statement.

Given the rising tensions between China and the U.S. over trade and foreign policy, a bid from a Chinese financial services giant was always going to face scrutiny. Ant Financial investors include Alibaba's billionaire chairman Jack Ma, as well as companies and funds backed by the Chinese government.

Republican congressmen Robert Pittenger and Chris Smith openly criticized MoneyGram's deal with Ant Financial last month, raising alarms about the Chinese government's "significant" 15% stake in Ant.

"As the Chinese government increasingly cracks down on political, religious and human rights activists, we must fully examine how the MoneyGram network may be used by the Chinese government to target these voices," the lawmakers wrote in a Wall Street Journal article.

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Ant Financial said it remains committed to the deal.

"MoneyGram and Ant Financial continue to work cooperatively under the terms of our merger agreement, and together, we are making progress on schedule towards obtaining all required regulatory and shareholder approvals," the company said in a statement.

MoneyGram said it "remains subject to the terms of the definitive merger agreement with Ant Financial and MoneyGram's board has not changed its recommendation in support of the merger agreement with Ant Financial."

Ant Financial recently completed a funding round that valued the company at $60 billion, more than rival PayPal (PYPL). The MoneyGram takeover was the company's first major move to expand its presence overseas.

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