The circle of potential buyers
for CBS Outdoor’s international division got smaller this week as Clear Channel and JCDecaux -- two of the world’s largest out-of-home advertising companies -- withdrew their bids. That
means the bidding will now be dominated by private equity investors, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the news.
The private-equity bidders named by FT include Providence Equity Partners, Platinum Equity and GMT Communications Partners, all of which have entered the second phase of the bidding process.
The Clear Channel and JCDecaux bids may have been complicated by regulatory concerns in Europe, including rules that limit the concentration of media ownership to prevent the formation of monopolies. Clear Channel and JCDecaux had expressed interest in buying specific CBS assets as a way of avoiding regulatory scrutiny, but were rebuffed by CBS, which wants to sell the division in one piece.
They may still bid for
pieces of the business, should the new owners decide to break it up.
According to the company, its European businesses include assets that represent around 50% of the overall outdoor market in the Netherlands, 23% of the outdoor market in the U.K., and 15% of the outdoor market in Italy, as well as 32% of the large-format roadside signage in France.
In January, CBS revealed plans to sell off its international out-of-home business -- including assets in Europe and Asia -- and restructure its domestic business as a real estate investment trust. The move is intended to reduce its federal tax burden. If CBS gains approval from the Internal Revenue Service, the conversion to an REIT could be completed by the beginning of the 2014 tax year.