APN Outdoor’s top marketer Charlotte Valente departs in wake of JC Decaux merger

Charlotte Valente, the general manager of marketing at APN Outdoor, will finish up tomorrow.

The news comes as APN Outdoor prepares for its imminent takeover from international outdoor giant JC Decaux. APN Outdoor CEO James Warburton has also recently left the business.

Valente: Won’t be joining the newly merged business

Valente joined APN Outdoor at the start of the year, moving across from outdoor street furniture business Adshel. She replaced Jane King, who had switched to Val Morgan Outdoor (VMO).

Over at Adshel, former marketing director at RadiumOne, Jodie Koning, stepped in to replace Valente as marketing boss.

Valente – who helped drive the company’s brand relaunch, and the creation of new go-to-market sales and marketing strategies – said it was time to move on.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at APN Outdoor and being part of the successful reinvigoration and transformation of the business was a big part of that,” she said.

“While JC Decaux is an incredible global business, the time is right for me to find new challenges. It’s an exciting time for the Australian and New Zealand out-of-home industry and I want to thank my amazing colleagues at APN Outdoor and wish them and JC Decaux much success for the future.” ‘

The new APN Outdoor branding

The numerous shuffles in marketing roles within the outdoor companies come as the industry emerges from a year of consolidation.

In late December 2016, APN Outdoor and Ooh Media – Australia’s two largest out-of-home advertising companies – announced their intentions to merge.

At the time, the companies explained the motivation behind the decision was to create a “long-term and diversified asset base across classic, digital and online formats”.

The announcement came six months after Ooh media had bought 85% of youth-orientated publisher Junkee Media for $11.05m.

Despite Ooh Media CEO Brendon Cook’s confidence the merger would be approved – based on the belief that the outdoor market makes up just 2.5% of media spend and thus the consolidation would not represent a significant decline in overall market competition – the merger was ultimately cancelled in May last year after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission indicated it would intervene on competition grounds.

The boss of the ACCC, Rod Simms, then hit out at Cook, claiming he had failed to understand the concerns of the outdoor company’s clients in light of the merger proposal.

“We had tremendous feedback from his customers and the customers of APN about their concerns about the merger. So it wasn’t just our view there’s not strong substitutability between outdoor media and other media sections, it was also the view of many customers and we could not see evidence that there was strong substitutability between, say, advertising out-of-home and advertising on Facebook.”

Around the same time, APN News & Media – which until now owned outdoor street furniture company Adshel as well as digital publisher Conversant Media and radio company Australian Radio Network (ARN) – decided to clear up market confusion and rebranded to Here There & Everywhere, or HT&E.

APN News & Media once also owned APN Outdoor, but it sold 100% of its shares in 2013. The cross-over in names continued to confuse the market until the rebrand occurred.

With HT&E rebranded, and the Ooh Media and APN Outdoor merger scuppered by the watchdog, new potential partnerships emerged.

In April of this year, HT&E (formerly APN News & Media) revealed it had rejected a bid from Ooh Media to buy Adshel. The proposed bid’s value was not disclosed.

Weeks later, however, Ooh Media upped the bid to nearly half a billion dollars.

HT&E then revealed Ooh Media was not the only bidder at the table for Adshel.

That night, it became clear APN Outdoor was the other bidder, upping Ooh Media’s $470 million offer for Adshel to $500 million, in the first major move from newly-installed CEO Warbuton.

APN Outdoor then continued to up its offer, bidding $540 million for Adshel, however was ultimately unsuccessful against Ooh Media.

JC Decaux then entered the fold, offering to purchase APN Outdoor for over $1 billion.

Both the Ooh Media takeover of Adshel, and the JC Decaux absorption of APN Outdoor were approved by the ACCC in August. 

In September, the deal was also approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), and then this month it got the seal of approval from APN Outdoor shareholders.

JC Decaux’s local CEO Steve O’Connor will run the newly merged business, and Mumbrella understands there will be more departures as the businesses find synergies and efficiencies.

JC Decaux had previously told Mumbrella that it wouldn’t pursue any acquisitions until it had re-secured the lucrative City of Sydney contract, which was put up for grabs late last year after two decades with JC Decaux.


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