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Outdoor ad group eyes acquisitions, growth

By Reuters

JCDecaux, the world's second biggest seller of outdoor advertising, predicted revenue from current operations would grow this quarter. The company also said it was eyeing acquisitions of companies burdened by debt.

In the UAE, JCDecaux told Emirates Business earlier it was expecting a 10 per cent growth in business in 2010 compared to 2009.

The French outdoor advertiser last week bought "certain selected assets" of UK rival Titan Outdoor after that company was forced into administration, co-Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Decaux said in a phone interview from Davos.

"The company went bust and it's a good example of what could happen in other markets where some of our other competitors went completely mad in their bidding strategies," he said.

JCDecaux is seeking small and medium-size companies in Europe and Asia-Pacific locations where it is already present, Decaux said.

Decaux said the company was not looking at acquisitions of US rivals, including Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings and CBS Outdoor. Clear Channel is the largest billboard company and New York-based CBS is the third- biggest after JCDecaux. "The crisis has been boosting consolidation of the industry," he said. "There are too many companies out there with too much debt they cannot repay".

JCDecaux yesterday reported that 2009 revenue fell as marketers reduced ad spending amid the global economic slowdown and competition for ads led to discounts.

"I'm confident we will achieve positive organic growth in the first quarter but it's too early to call it a recovery," Decaux said. "The bookings are very short term and clients are not committing themselves in advance".

Sales for last year fell 11.5 per cent to €1.9 billion (Dh9.67bn). Sales, excluding acquisitions and foreign currency swings, dropped 10.9 per cent, illustrating the "sharp contraction" of spending in the year, the company said.

"The year 2009 was undoubtedly the most difficult year that JCDecaux has experienced since the creation of the company in 1964," Decaux said.


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