Platinum Equity Buys CBS Outdoor International For $225 Million

Platinum Equity, a private-equity firm based in Los Angeles, is paying $225 million for CBS Outdoor International, the overseas arm of the U.S. outdoor advertiser, the companies announced Tuesday.

CBS Outdoor International controls a large portfolio of outdoor advertising inventory in Europe. 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.

CBS Outdoor also controls substantial outdoor advertising assets in Canada, Mexico and South America, which are not included in the sale.
 
Platinum’s bid beat out competing offers from rival private-equity outfits Providence Equity Partners and GMT Communications Partners. Clear Channel Outdoor and JCDecaux dropped bids for CBS Outdoor International in April -- possibly due to regulatory concerns in Europe, including rules that limit the concentration of media ownership to prevent the formation of monopolies.

Both companies had expressed interest in buying specific CBS assets as a way of avoiding regulatory scrutiny, but were rebuffed by CBS, which wanted to sell the division in one piece.
 
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

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