Clear Channel Outdoor Hits Pause On European Assets Sale

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings is taking its European outdoor advertising business off the auction block, at least temporarily, due to the weakening euro. The news report didn’t indicate when the assets might go up for sale again, although it is presumably contingent on a stronger euro.

The news was first reported by Reuters, which cited a number of unnamed sources familiar with the process.

CCO parent company iHeartMedia was looking to sell its European division for over $2.5 billion, but the prospects for a deal dwindled as the value of the assets, denominated in euros, have declined in dollar terms. The euro has steadily declined in value over the last year, from around $1.39 in May 2014 to just $1.13 today — its weakest showing in 11 years. Over a quarter of this decline came in the last month alone.



There is a good chance of further drops amid mounting anxiety over a potential Greek exit from the euro, as well as stalling economic growth in core Euro zone countries, including Germany and France.

Recent moves by the European Central Bank to begin quantitative easing — i.e., buying bonds with newly created money — is adding more downward pressure on the currency.

Last year, JCDecaux was said to be interested in acquiring Clear Channel’s European assets, but so far nothing has come of this potential consolidation play. During JCDecaux’s most recent earnings announcement, the company’s chairman and co-CEO Jean-Charles Decaux blamed a decline in European billboard revenues on the “lack of consolidation in most European markets,” suggesting JCDecaux may still be in the market for Clear Channel’s European assets whenever they come back on the auction block.

Back in 2013, JCDecaux made a bid for CBS Outdoor’s international properties, but later dropped out when CBS refused to break up the assets for separate sales, which JCDecaux demanded in order to avoid regulatory issues.

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