Decaux purchase puts Maiden in spotlight

JC Decaux’s 600m purchase of Vivendi’s outdoor advertising division, which includes Mills & Allen and Sky Sites in the UK, has fuelled speculation about a future bid for the quoted Maiden Group.

The billboard contractor, which has an estimated 15 per cent of the UK outdoor market, saw its share price jump nearly 10 per cent on Monday morning after confirmation of Decaux’s victory in bidding for Havas Media Communications – Outdoor Advertising (HMC-OA) and closed at 404p, up 30.5p.

Maiden saw its shares plummet last September when the company issued a profits warning, blaming poor trading during and after the World Cup. It is now the fourth biggest contractor in the UK behind the More Group, the enlarged Decaux and TDI.

Newspaper reports that Carlton Communications is considering a 170m offer for Maiden Group have been denied. But it is assumed that some of the interested parties which lost out in the battle for HMC-OA or dropped out in the early bidding stages will now turn their full attention to Maiden.

Meanwhile, Michael Higgins, who had been working on acquisitions for the billboard division of the More Group, is to leave the company after its failure to buy HMC-OA. Higgins, a former Mills & Allen sales director, had been tipped for a senior post within M&A if CCI had won the Vivendi auction.

Media Analysis, page 16

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