JCDecaux Mulls U.S. Takeovers as ‘Outdoor Cliff’ May Cut Prices

JCDecaux SA (DEC), seeking to grow in the U.S., is watching to see if the slowing economy brings down asset prices as potential targets like CBS Outdoor Inc. are too expensive, said Co-Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Decaux.

JCDecaux, the world’s largest outdoor advertising company, is looking for deals in the U.S., part of an effort to expand outside Europe where sales growth is lackluster, Decaux said in Barcelona at an investor conference organized by Morgan Stanley.

“If the economy continues to be difficult, and maybe more difficult, some of our competitors will be facing potentially some difficulties in refinancing their debt,” he said yesterday. “It’s not the fiscal cliff, it’s the outdoor cliff.”

Companies like CBS’s outdoor advertising business and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. (CCO), which is controlled by Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP after a 2008 buyout, are out of reach for now, according to Decaux.

“Neither CBS Outdoor nor Clear Channel are for sale and at any rate their price expectations are too high,” he said.

JCDecaux, based in Neuilly-Sur-Seine near Paris, generated more than two-thirds of its 2.46 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in 2011 revenue from Europe. The company has made progress on its goal to expand abroad, except in the U.S., where it is difficult to grow without acquisitions, Decaux said.

The French company will decide in the next few years whether to increase its stake in Russian advertising company Russ Outdoor after agreeing to buy a 25 percent stake in October, Decaux said. The private equity companies that own the majority of Russ Outdoor view Decaux as a potential acquirer of their holding, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Thomson in Barcelona at athomson6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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