JC Decaux acquisition of APN Outdoor cleared by Foreign Investment Review Board

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has no objections to international outdoor giant JC Decaux gobbling up APN Outdoor.

The approval by the FIRB is the latest hurdle cleared by the outdoor organisations, after the competition watchdog – the ACCC – also gave the all clear. The APN Outdoor and JC Decaux deal however, still remains subject to approval from APN Outdoor shareholders, the courts and the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office. 

JC Decaux and APN Outdoor have made it over the next regulatory hurdle 

APN Outdoor shareholders will vote on the proposed $1.119bn transaction – which Mumbrella understands would see the departure of CEO James Warburton and likely the disappearance of the APN Outdoor brand name – at the Scheme Meeting on 15 October.

APN Outdoor said in the absence of a superior proposal, the board of directors would continue to recommend the transaction.

Australia’s largest out-of-home media player, Ooh Media, has also recently purchased Adshel for $570m, after the ACCC decided not to intervene.

Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said at the time that while some players in the space had expressed concerns about the market consolidation, major media agencies and advertisers were not worried.

“The merged companies will continue to compete with each other and with other out-of-home advertising providers. We consider that the options for advertisers and site owners will not change significantly and so neither of the proposed deals is likely be substantially lessen competition,” he said.

When the ACCC’s approval came through, an APN Outdoor spokesperson said it was a step in the right direction.

Warburton hopes shareholders will vote in favour of the transaction 

“We believe that by bringing JC Decaux and APN Outdoor together, we’ll be more competitive within the broader media sector and better able to offer brands more compelling opportunities to deliver their message to audiences across the country.

“This is a step in the right direction to grow the out-of-home media sector in Australia which currently represents only 6% of advertising spend. We look forward to progressing the transaction towards a vote of APN Outdoor shareholders later this year.”

Thus far, Warburton has refused to be drawn on the implications of the merger for the company’s staffing numbers. He has been firm in his belief, however, that JC Decaux buying the company, is a better outcome for shareholders and for the market, than if APN Outdoor had been successful in its bid for Here, There & Everywhere’s Adshel – subsequently bought by Ooh Media.

“I certainly think the surety of an all-cash consideration for our shareholders and anywhere from a 20% to 35% premium on three-month and six-month VWAP [volume-weighted average price] is an outstanding result for our shareholders, and arguably a better one because of the certainty,” he told Mumbrella last month.

“So I think from that perspective, this ultimately probably is a better outcome than if we had bought Adshel to be completely frank.”


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