French outdoor ad giant J C Decaux has unexpectedly quit the auction of Germany's leading billboard provider Deutsche Staedte Medien.

Decaux decided to drop out of the bidding and back the offer from German outdoor firm Wall, in which the French group has recently increased its stake.

DSM – which sells €285 million ($333.2m; £196.9m) of outdoor advertising across its native land (around one-third of the total market) – is currently the property of 28 German cities. In June, these local authorities agreed to dispose of the company by the end of 2003. It is expected to fetch up to €400m.

Aside from Wall and Decaux, DSM has attracted interest from German competitor Stroer and US giants Clear Channel and Viacom [WAMN: 05-Aug-03].

Decaux – Europe's leading outdoor provider – last week agreed to purchase the 20% stake in Wall held by Clear Channel. The deal will raise its share in the Berlin-based firm to 35%, making it the second largest stockholder behind the Wall family, which owns the remaining 65%.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff