PARIS: Outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux has expressed interest in swallowing up its even bigger rival Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings.

The unit of US-headquartered Clear Channel Communications is valued at around $9 billion (€7.13bn; £4.71bn). Its acquisition would allow the French company to expand its North American operations in a region where planning rules make it difficult to put up new billboards.

Comments JCDecaux ceo Jean-François Decaux: "Combining . . . would create one of the few global media companies in the world with a lot of potential growth. Of course, we're interested."

A merger would result in operations in 66 countries. Clear Channel itself has 155,000 billboards, posters and other ad sites across the US.

The outdoor division could come into play if one of the private-equity consortiums interested in buying the parent company inks a deal [WARC News: 27-Oct-06]. The firm is also the biggest radio station operator in the US.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff