Takeover fever strikes outdoor

The poster industry is braced for a round of takeovers following the Office of Fair Trading’s

decision to allow Maiden Outdoor to buy British Transport Advertising.

The OFT no longer regards outdoor as a collection of different sized markets, but accepts Maiden’s arguments that it is one whole market.

The acquisition gives Maiden 36 per cent of the 48-sheet market and about 22 per cent of the total outdoor market by revenue.

The other major poster contractors – More O’Ferrall, which was frustrated by the OFT in its attempt to buy London Transport Advertising last year and Mills & Allen – are expected to seek small local companies for acquisition or joint sales deals.

“Obviously it is more likely that acquisitions will happen,” says Vincent Slevin, managing director of MOF. “It is an encouraging sign that we can become stronger units, so that it is not a weak and divided industry.”

“The regional contractors are going to be the most freaked out by this,” says one senior poster specialist. “They’ll never be able to afford to compete in marketing terms so one day you’ll see all the national sales handled by the big players.”

Maiden will announce the restructure of the two companies and any redundancies within the next two weeks.

Industry sources expect BTA managing director Roger Fernley to become a joint md of Maiden with responsibility for developing the company’s Railtrack concession.

The company is believed to have plans to invest heavily in new products such as six-sheet panels and sponsorship of train stations in a bid to guarantee the renewal of the Railtrack franchise in two years’ time.

BTA’s roadside stock is expected to be absorbed directly into Maiden’s portfolio, but speculation continues that Maiden may dispose of the bus advertising part of the business.

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