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Breakingviews – Corona Capital: Just Eat, Malaysia – Reuters

A man wearing a protective mask crosses a street in front of Petronas Twin Towers, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia January 11, 2021.
LONDON/HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) – Corona Capital is a column updated throughout the day by Breakingviews columnists around the world with short, sharp pandemic-related insights.
– Just Eat
– Malaysia
APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION. Food delivery companies are the obvious winners of the pandemic, but the question is at what cost. Just Eat, the $18 billion Anglo-Dutch food delivery firm, on Wednesday reported a 57% growth of total orders in the three months to December compared to the same period last year. Takeout meals delivered by Just Eat-hired drivers instead of restaurants have grown fourfold in the United Kingdom year-on-year in the fourth quarter to nearly a third of the countrys total orders, from 8% last year.
However, as a result of massive investment in new delivery drivers, Just Eats full-year adjusted EBITDA margin is 10%, below the 13% forecast by analysts, according to Refinitiv data. Boss Jitse Groen said the company will continue to invest heavily and prioritise market share over adjusted EBITDA. Shares fell 4% on Wednesday morning.
He has to. Rival Deliveroo, backed by, which has long operated its main fleet of self-employed drivers, is expanding aggressively across the UK and looking to IPO soon, which will provide it with more firepower to grow. Despite Groens reluctance to develop his own delivery fleet, competition proves that he has to. (By Karen Kwok)
RUBBER MEETS ROAD. Malaysia enters its first state of emergency in 50 years on Wednesday to battle a rising coronavirus caseload. The suspension of parliament has been blasted by opposition to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin given the existing virus-fighting support, including this weeks introduction of a travel ban, plus a two-week lockdown for Kuala Lumpur and five states.
Malaysias economy contracted by just 2.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier, as manufacturing growth offset weak household spending. The countrys stock market, thanks in part to rubber-glove makers, outperformed rivals last year and appears sanguine about this latest development. Politics could yet change that, however. Muhyiddin, holder of only a narrow majority since a power struggle gave him the top job in March, has promised elections as soon as it is safe. Malaysias last national emergency lasted two years. The longer this one runs, the warier investors will get. (By Jennifer Hughes)
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