JCDecaux and Murdoch in Talks Over Exchange Deal

15 September 2008

NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, France: Rupert Murdoch is in talks with French out-of-home advertising titan JCDecaux regarding a possible exchange of News Corporation's eastern European outdoor advertising arm, News Outdoor.

The putative deal, which would involve NewsCorp taking a stake in the French company, was apparently prompted by the media mogul's concerns over the Russian investment climate.

An agreement would value NewsCorp's 73% stake in News Outdoor at over $1 billion (€709m; £565m), and could help further Murdoch's aims of expanding his existing pay-TV operations in western Europe.

It would also mean NewsCorp taking an up to 10% stake in JCDecaux, with the takeover of News Outdoor allowing the French firm to strengthen its position relative to its main rival, Clear Channel.

The Russian authorities raided News Outdoor last week in a case that was later revealed to be related to a single company employee.

However, other factors – including a law increasing the cost of TV advertising and a "beautification" campaign resulting in many billboards being taken down – have contributed to declining outdoor revenues in the country.

Declared Murdoch: "The more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it. The more successful we'd have been, the more vulnerable we'd be to having it stolen from us. Better we sell now.”

News Outdoor was put up for sale more than a year ago, and was previously subject to a $1.65bn offer from private equity firm Texas Pacific Group.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff