It’s been an open secret for many years in the UK that Ocean Outdoor were simply invented to be sold. Do something in OOH slightly differently, piss off JCDecaux and sure enough if you are an irritant for too long they will come along with money and take you out of the equation.It’s a sort of sad way to do business but that’s what you get when private equity boys play in this space and news and rumour this past week is that JCDecaux are favourites to snap them up in an auction that has been managed by Rothschild for the past couple of months.
With Outdoor Plus recently pulling out of the bidding we know now that the auction process is down to the final two (from the original six companies that expressed an interest); a straight fight between JCDecaux and Ströer’s blowUP media GmbH  with the French giant leading the bidding with a bid of GBP 50 million.
As our personal take is that JCDecaux won’t take any of the staff – just the panels (and digital displays) and as a number of Ocean Outdoor’s senior team are ex-JCDecaux, Ocean employees better hope that Ströer up their bid.
In actual fact it would probably be a backward step for the industry if JCDecaux acquire Ocean. It would be far more interesting if someone new came into the UK / London picture.
If Ströer were successful it would further shake up the UK marketplace – first of all the Ocean Management would stay – not only have they developed some interesting interactive initiatives of late they have been doing some really nice marketing as well AND it would be a shame if that team were broken up.
In actual fact, in many ways it doesn’t make sense for JCDecaux to actually win the bidding. Let me explain – as an independent, Ocean can command premium advertising rates but under JCDecaux all of that would just get rolled into a much bigger number. Ocean, subsumed as part of JCDecaux, will cannabalise existing JCDecaux revenues.
So why then would JCDecaux wish to acquire? Well it obviously takes a competitor out of the market place BUT most importantly it secures them some PREMIUM locations in Central London.
As Ocean have done such a fine job these past few years we are with the Ocean staff on this one and hope that someone other than JCDecaux acquires. Either way, the deal will most likely be completed by Easter.