Alan Rutherford, Unilever's vice president of global media, said in a statement: "We have been delighted with the effectiveness of our partnership so far, and this move toward a global alignment is an important strategic fit with our brands' development." He touted Unilever's out-of-home advertising as part of its "360 degree planning," adding: "There is no doubt that outdoor will play an increasing role in our brands' communication mix."
The Unilever deal is a big win for JCDecaux, which runs a close second to Clear Channel Outdoor's international business, with 10% market share, versus Clear Channel's 12%. No financial terms were disclosed.
Both companies are looking to expand their global operations with acquisitions in Asia and Latin America. Europe's prime outdoor ad market may be up for grabs, too. In March, the European company's co-CEO Jean-Francois Decaux told CNBC his firm was interested in "assets of both Clear Channel and CBS, should they become available."
While this notion may have been farfetched a few years ago, chances of such a sale have increased. Corporate parent Clear Channel Communications' current effort is to sell the company to two private-equity firms, H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners.