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MoneyGram, the Dallas-based money transfer group, has agreed to hold takeover talks with Euronet, in a move that could end its existing deal with Ant Financial, a rival owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.

The decision to start talks with Euronet came after MoneyGram’s board determined that the bid of the Kansas-based group could result in a superior proposal than Ant’s offer.

Although MoneyGram decided to hold talks with Euronet, the board said that it continued to recommend its merger agreement with Ant. This is a standard procedure when a target receives a rival offer that it thinks is better than the older one but it has not made a final decision on whether to go forward with the new buyer.

MoneyGram received Euronet’s unsolicited $15.20 a share cash offer valuing the company at more than $1bn last Tuesday. The offer would also see Euronet assume $940m of MoneyGram’s debt.

Euronet’s equity proposal presents a 15 per cent premium to Ant’s $13.25 a share offer, which was made in January and the company argued its offer would present less regulatory hurdles than its Chinese rival.

MoneyGram is on the hook for a $30m break fee if it walks away from Ant.

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