Ctrip has issued a carefully-worded statement to the market saying that it was Qunar who instigated takeover talks between the pair.
The statement comes after Qunar’s revelation yesterday that it received and subsequently rejected “an unsolicited response from Ctrip.com to acquire all of our outstanding shares.”
Ctrip, whose shares fell 6% yesterday, offers a meaningfully different version of events. When two massive public businesses openly contradict each other on something as market-sensitive as a takeover, regulators might take note.
The main point of disagreement is over who approached whom. Qunar’s description of Ctrip’s approach as “unsolicited” contradicts Ctrip’s comments this morning that Qunar made the initial move.
Ctrip said: “After being approached by Qunar, Ctrip sent a confidential, non-binding, preliminary proposal to Qunar’s board of directors in early May indicating its interest in pursuing a potential transaction with Qunar. “Ctrip received a response from Qunar earlier this week stating that the proposal was not accepted and indicating that Qunar would be open to having further discussions.”
However open Qunar might be further discussions – it said as much yesterday – Ctrip is not.
“[Ctrip] is no longer interested in pursuing a potential M&A discussion with Qunar” It says, in the broadest terms, why it is no longer interested: “recent earnings performance and corporate actions.”
Concerns about earnings is understandable, given the red ink which dominates Qunar’s results. Corporate actions are less easy to pin down and might just be Ctrip’s way of saying it doesn’t rate the management or at least some of its decisions.
And while talks with Qunar are certainly off the agenda, “Ctrip will continue to explore other partnership opportunities that will bring strategic value in the Internet and e-commerce space.”
After all, it does have another $250 million in its warchest courtesy of its minority shareholder Priceline Group, to say nothing of nearly $2 billion-worth of cash and equivalents on its books at the end of the first quarter this year.
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