San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications Inc. took a major step toward international expansion Thursday with its agreement to acquire London-based More Group — one of the world’s leading outdoor advertisers — for $783 million.
Clear Channel, which owns or programs 18 TV and 184 radio stations, became a major player in the U.S. outdoor market last year with its acquisition of Eller Media, one of the country’s largest outdoor advertising companies, for $1.15 billion. Six months later, the company agreed to acquire Universal Outdoor Holdings for $1.7 billion. On receiving regulatory approval, Universal’s holdings will boost the number of U.S. advertising displays owned by Clear Channel to 88,000.
More Group, though concentrated in Europe, also operates in Asia, Australia and the U.S. Its brands include More O’Ferrall, Superboards and WW, owner of 40,000 billboards; More Trans, a contractor for transportation ads; and Adshel, owner of 50,000 street-furniture panels.
Before Clear Channel approached either company about being acquired, More and Eller worked together in a bid to provide New York City with bus shelters. The advertising medium, considered a part of outdoor’s street-furniture sector, is populated with companies that provide cities not only with bus shelters, but with benches, newsstands, public toilets and even litter bins. In exchange, these companies get to sell ad space on their municipal donations.
Street furniture is especially prominent in France. Its role here, by comparison, is so slight that More Group chairman Frank Knight has called the U.S. “the most underdeveloped outdoor advertising market in the world.”