Magazine article Marketing

Outdoor Rematch over Avenir

Magazine article Marketing

Outdoor Rematch over Avenir

Article excerpt

The pending sale of international outdoor business Avenir has created speculation about which key media players are lining up for the kill. Lucy Barrett reports

The outdoor advertising sector has already been the centre of one bitter takeover battle this year, when Clear Channel and Decaux fought it out for the More Group. In the end Decaux suffered a bloody nose and in June US group Clear Channel took control of More for [pounds]475m.

At the time the outdoor sector was seen as an attractive area into which media companies could expand. Outdoor was thought to have shaken off its cowboy image and become a potentially hot media prospect. Moreover, in June this year it emerged that the outdoor industry had eve(taken commercial radio as the fastest-growing advertising medium, bringing in revenues of [pounds]500m last year, an increase of [pounds]74m on 1996.

Now another player is for sale. Last week Avenir, which has an annual turnover of [pounds]350m, had the 'for sale' sign put above its door. It's no surprise. For months there has been speculation about whether its owner, French media giant Havas, would put its poster division, which includes UK-based Mills & Allen and Sky Sites, up for sale.

Outdoor future

But with the collapse in economic confidence and fears of another recession looming, is the outdoor industry as attractive a proposition as it once seemed?

Most industry insiders feel the money invested in outdoor over the past five years is paying off, and for large investors Avenir will be a good buy. It is unlikely to attract the same media frenzy as the More takeover, in which attempts by Decaux, its arch rival, to buy it were viewed as hostile.

There is no shortage of potential buyers for Avenir. An obvious move would be for an established outdoor company to buy the whole Avenir group. There is no doubt that there will be a joust between US giants Clear Channel and TDI. Both chief executives have made no secret of the fact they will bid, and in one French newspaper it was claimed that TDI had already done the deal.

If an outdoor company does bid it could be victim to regulatory restrictions in the markets in which it and Avenir companies are established. In the UK, no outdoor company can control more than 25% of the market.

If either TDI or Clear Channel are successful, media ownership issues are likely. …

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