MEDIA: SPOTLIGHT ON: TDI - TDI’s purchase of Giraudy is part of a broader growth plan/TDI isn’t just a UK company selling advertising on the tube, Alasdair Reid writes

Back in March, TDI acquired the French outdoor contractor Giraudy for pounds 270 million. The deal included 70,000 French panels plus a small Spanish subsidiary. This transaction, added to earlier deals in Finland and the Netherlands, substantially enhanced TDI’s presence in continental Europe.

Back in March, TDI acquired the French outdoor contractor Giraudy

for pounds 270 million. The deal included 70,000 French panels plus a

small Spanish subsidiary. This transaction, added to earlier deals in

Finland and the Netherlands, substantially enhanced TDI’s presence in

continental Europe.



An important step forward. Last week we saw the company restructuring in

recognition of this - the UK’s senior management stepped up to take on

European roles in the recently created TDI Europe, clearing the way for

the creation of more defined local management structures in TDI’s main

markets.



Jeremy Male, TDI Europe’s chief executive, will be joined in the top

echelon by Tom Goddard as European chief operating officer, and Mike

Baker as European marketing director. Stepping up to take the reins of

the UK operation are Clive Punter, the UK sales director, and Andrew

Oldham, the UK commercial director. They will become joint managing

directors.



Many in the UK market greeted this news as evidence that TDI has finally

got its act together in regard to Europe, placing it firmly in a

triumvirate that also includes JCDecaux and Clear Channel International,

the parent company of More Group in the UK.



For some, though, it served to emphasise the fact that TDI comes in

third in this triumvirate - and is likely to remain in third place, with

opportunities to expand elsewhere in Europe severely limited.



CCI and Decaux have Scandinavia and Iberia pretty much sewn up and in

both Italy and Germany ownership of the medium is so fragmented that

there is no simple means of entry.



Many also chose to focus on the possibility that the appointments may

weaken the company’s UK operation. One source says: ’I’m flabbergasted

at what they have done. For a start, I always think it’s potentially

disastrous to create joint managing directors. Even the best of friends

can become enemies in that situation. But I think there were possibly

more appropriate people around within TDI to fill the managing director

role. The main implication for me is that they are perhaps taking their

eye off the ball in the UK.’



This sort of analysis - by no means uncommon - is typical of the

spectacularly parochial attitude that we still tend to adopt in the

UK.



TDI, lest we forget, isn’t a plucky British company taking its first

brave steps beyond these shores. TDI has always been the European

outpost of Infinity Broadcasting, one of the world’s largest outdoor

media owners courtesy of its purchase of Outdoor Systems in the US for

dollars 8 billion.



Moreover, the UK wasn’t the only string to TDI’s bow - before the recent

deals it already had a presence in Ireland and the Netherlands. The

latest personnel moves reflect the fact that there’s a bigger job to be

done outside the UK.



Giraudy, for instance, was held in mothballs for two years by a venture

capital company that had acquired it as part of a larger deal.



Giraudy needs loads of love, care and attention - basically a lot of

investment and a relaunch. That’s more than enough for TDI’s top guns to

be getting on with.



Male is more disappointed than angry about all the talk of TDI taking

its eye off the ball in the UK. He says: ’Anyone who knows anything

about it knows that Clive and Andrew make a great team. The changes

we’ve seen are designed to create further opportunities for change.

We’ll be making more appointments as we go along.’



TDI’s message, it seems, is that just because further expansion is

difficult, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.



Male adds: ’There are more opportunities out there than you’d think and

we certainly see substantial opportunities for growth.



’It would be wrong to presume we focus only on transport, as our

purchase of Giraudy shows. In the UK it’s true that we have a pedigree

in transport but we believe we can take our expertise and apply it to

other businesses. With some acquisitions, such as Giraudy, we’ll get

expertise from them in return.’