The Britain’s outdoor advertising industry is preparing for its biggest ever shake-up. The US group, Clear Channel Communications is expected to sell its international poster business for an estimated $3.2bn (£1.6bn). While the most likely buyer is JCDecaux, the world’s second largest outdoor group, private equity groups will come in to bid as well.
Clear Channel Outdoor is currently the largest outdoor advertising operator in the UK, and also claims to dominate in Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. Its operations stretch as far as Australia, China and even in our sunny Singapore too!
It also seems that other players such as USA’s Titan Worldwide and Spain’s Cemusa will stand to gain from picking off parts that JCDecaux would have to sell on for regulatory reasons. It is almost certainly that JCDecaux will be forced to sell off parts of the British and French operations to avoid breaking competition rules. In Britain, the combined companies would control 80% of roadside poster hoardings. The Singapore operations may be similarly affected as we have the same market sizing and dynamics of the UK market.
The board of Clear Channel Communications is now awaiting a shareholder vote on May 22 for a proposed takeover by Thomas H Lee and Bain Capital Partners, the private equity groups. Whether or not the takeover goes ahead, Clear Channel Outdoor’s assets outside the US are likely to go on the block, with the sale process beginning within weeks of the vote.
Though I am aware of how our industry is well affected by the comings and goings of private equity groups, I never really saw this between Clear Channel and JCDecaux at all. Till June then, when we see the results of the shareholder vote and its effects on Singapore!