June 25, 2018 / 7:09 AM / 5 months ago

JC Decaux pursues $810 million bid for Australia's APN

PARIS (Reuters) - French outdoor advertising company JC Decaux (JCDX.PA) said it was still in talks with Australian billboard firm APN Outdoor Group APO.AX over its offer to buy APN, currently worth around $810 million.(610.86 million pounds)

The statement from JC Decaux came after APN itself lost out in a bid for advertising firm Adshel, part of a series of deals in the lucrative Australian outdoor advertising market. The French group is one of four companies controlling an industry estimated to be worth some $660 million in Australia.

JC Decaux’s offer had in fact been conditional upon APN scrapping its $424 million bid for HT&E’s (HT1.AX) Adshel outdoor advertising division Adshel. A deal for APN to buy Adshel would have increased the competitive pressure on JC Decaux’s local business.

JC Decaux, which sells ads on bus stops and billboards, has offered A$6.52 per APN share, valuing APN at around A$1.09 billion ($808.8 million).

“Until a transaction is agreed between the parties, there is no certainty that the proposal will result in any transaction. JC Decaux will continue to update the market in relation to the proposal,” JC Decaux said in a statement.

Last week, APN had called JC Decaux’s offer “modest” and had decided against backing down on its proposal to buy Adshel. In the event, APN was beaten out by rival Ooh!Media Ltd (OML.AX) in the fight to buy Adshel.

JC Decaux shares were up 0.5 percent on Monday, while shares in APN had been temporarily suspended.

APN and Ooh!Media rank first and second in the billboards and outdoor advertising market in Australia, according to research firm IBISWorld. JC Decaux ranks as the third-biggest in Australia, while HT&E ranks fourth.

The mergers and acquisitions activity within the Australian outdoor advertising sector has drawn close scrutiny from regulators, which had last year blocked a merger between APN and Ooh!Media. ($1 = 1.3477 Australian dollars)

(This story Adds dropped word million in third paragraph)

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Louise Heavens/Keith Weir

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