NEW YORK: The annual four-day UBS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York City is in some ways reminiscent of the Spanish paseo: a leisurely evening stroll, in which young locals strut their stuff, eyeball rivals, and evaluate their chances.

No surprise then that the globe's second biggest outdoor advertising business, French-headquartered JCDecaux chose the occasion of the Manhattan paseo to declare its romantic intentions toward larger rival and world leader Clear Channel Outdoor.

Eyebrows were raised, however, that a French company chose an Englishman to woo, in Cyrano de Bergerac style, the object of its affections. The aptly named Jeremy Male, Decaux's ceo for the UK and Northern Europe, sadly opted for prosaic prose rather than Cyrano's impassioned poesy.

"We would love to combine business in some way," he said. "Clear Channel is our single largest competitor on a worldwide basis. Occasionally you come across competition - but broadly, every time you see a street furniture contract, there's two people in the world: Clear Channel and us."

He then started to breathe heavily: "We have no idea whether they may or may not be interested in divesting. But . . . we would like to have a conversation,"

Although potent elsewhere in the world, Decaux has made little impact in the US where it remains a minor league player. A marriage, should it ever take place, would certainly owe more to propitiousness than passion.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff