More takes up 6m share in Sydney outdoor ad business

Outdoor advertising company More Group is to invest 6m in an Australian media outfit in a bid to secure a key slice of outdoor advertising surrounding the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

The British-based firm is to acquire a half share in a joint venture company Adshel Street Furniture (ASF), which will take over the street furniture division of Australian regional newspaper publisher APN.

The deal is expected to strengthen the hand of the More Group, which is bidding to develop key outdoor advertising sites in Sydney’s “CBD” (central business district) in the run-up to the Olympics.

APN already controls the bulk of smaller-scale outdoor advertising facilities outside Sydney. Earlier this year it bought out a number of rivals to establish itself in the Sydney suburbs.

Sydney authorities have invited bids from international outdoor advertising companies to operate street furniture sites in the city under a 15-year licence. It is expected that the More Group, French-based JC Decaux and German outdoor company Wall will bid for the Sydney contract, with a decision expected in November.

Roger Parry, chief executive of More Group, insists that ASF will continue to invest in installing Adshel sites across the conurbation, regardless of who wins the coveted central Sydney contract.

“But that contract certainly represents the crown jewels, and we can expect major advertisers to be very interested in those sites during the Olympic period,” he says.

Adshel has beaten off competition from JC Decaux to maintain its grip over bus shelter advertising sites in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for the next 15 years. The firm has also beaten the French outdoor group in a bid to operate street furniture sites in the French city of Rennes.

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