Watchdog won’t oppose outdoor ad acquisitions

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it will not oppose proposed acquisitions by two outdoor advertising giants.

The ACCC has been reviewing the acquisition of APN Outdoor Group Limited by JCDecaux SA and the proposed acquisition of Adshel Street Furniture Pty Ltd by oOh!media Limited.

Outdoor advertising refers to advertising on billboards on the side of roads, street furniture such as bus shelters and tram stops, trains and buses, at train stations and leisure centres and in airports and shopping malls.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said the acquisitions involve businesses in complementary segments, rather than the same sector, and therefore are unlikely to lessen competition.

“This is very different to the proposed tie-up in early 2017 between oOh!media and APN Outdoor, where the companies were in direct competition with each other,” he said.

APN Outdoor’s strength is in large format billboards and airports, whereas JCDecaux operates essentially in street furniture, a category in which APN Outdoor does not operate.

Similarly, oOh!media’s strength is in the large format billboard, airport and retail categories, whereas Adshel’s main operations are in street furniture, a category in which oOh!Media does not operate.

“The information before us, including bidding data for sites, indicates that the respective merger parties rarely compete head-to-head,” Sims said.

He said some market participants expressed some concerns about the possible anti-competitive bundling of different out-of-home categories, but the ACCC found bundling was not likely to have a significant impact on competition.

“The merged companies will continue to compete with each other and with other out-of-home advertising providers. We consider that the options for advertisers and site owners will not change significantly and so neither of the proposed deals is likely to substantially lessen competition,” Sims said.

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