- French media group JC Decaux has outbidded rivals to acquire the outdoor poster advertising operation of Havas for £573 million (FF5.75 billion).
Rival bidders for the Avenir operation, which includes Mills & Allen in the UK, are thought to have included US group Clear Channel, which last year defeated Decaux in a bitter struggle to acquire M&A's UK rival, the More Group.
The Avenir operation will give JC Decaux control of around 40 per cent of the French outdoor business and control of almost one in seven of all poster sites in Britain.
In addition to Mills & Allen, the Avenir group includes Sky Sites, David Allen, Avenir AP Systemes, RCI and UK cinema advertising company, Pearl & Dean.
The £573 million price tag was finally agreed following an auction. It is being seen as high by many analysts considering that the business is reported to have been making only £25 million (FF250 million ) a year.
Jean-Francois Decaux, chief executive at JC Decaux, said: "Mills & Allen and Sky Sites are complementary to our existing business and will allow us to catch hundreds of millions of people, whether it be in the street, the tube, airports or shopping centres."
Other bidders are thought to have included US media firms CBS and Out Doors Systems Inc, and US private equity firm, Texas Pacific.
The acquisition came as another UK outdoor firm, the Maiden Group, denied that it was in takeover talks with Carlton Communications.
The denial followed newspaper reports that Carlton was considering making a £170 million ($274.5 million) bid for the company as part of its effort to build its advertising arm that already includes Carlton Screen Advertising -- formerly Rank Screen Advertising.