Ocean Outdoor Agrees To Takeover By Largest Current Shareholder

May 5, 2022 by Dave Haynes

The UK-based OOH/DOOH media firm Ocean Outdoor has agreed to a $580 million takeover bid by its largest current shareholder.

The deal attaches to a new company formed by shareholder Atairos Group, with Ocean Outdoor shareholders getting an 18% premium to the company’s cash price of $8.85 in mid-April, when Ocean went into talks with Atairos. Accepting shareholders can also elect to instead take shares.

Ocean operates mainly in the UK (that big Picadilly Lights LED board in Picadilly Circus is owned by Ocean), but also has a footprint in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Germany.

Sixteen:Nine’s German language content partner Invidis has a good post up analyzing the deal and its implications …

In recent years, Ocean has grown through a series of acquisitions, including Visualart’s DooH business, into a major European DooH provider.

However, due to the pandemic and the lockdowns, Ocean Outdoor slipped deep into losses. In the past year, sales increased again to GBP 124.4 million (2020: GBP 86.2 million). However, Ocean still posted losses of £30.3m in 2021. In the pre-crisis year of 2019, Ocean achieved GBP 139.6 million – albeit without some companies acquired later.

The pressure from the financial markets has increased in recent months, so that the management decided to put the company up for sale ( invidis report ). Financial investor Atairos’ cash offer of $10.40 per share represents a premium of 21.9 percent over Ocean Outdoor’s average share price over the past six months.

Ocean Outdoors CEO Tim Bleakley comments: “Atairos’ proposal can bring clear benefits to the broader shareholder group and help Ocean continue to invest in its people and technology and expand its scale and reach into new and existing markets. “

Atairos already owns 37.9 percent of Ocean Outdoor. The private equity firm has $6 billion in assets under management.

According to Bleakley, Ocean booked again strongly in the fourth quarter of 2021 and in the beginning of 2022.

Observes Florian Rotberg of Invidis:

The signs were on the wall: Ocean Outdoor will be taken off the stock exchange and will end up with the major shareholder Atairos. The financial investors saw their chance to take over the European DooH network operator at an opportune moment at the end of the pandemic.

Not much will change for the Ocean’s day-to-day business in the foreseeable future. Management is busy steering the OoH business in all seven European countries through the volatile advertising market.

At the same time, the new owners will make the company a competitor to JC Decaux and Ströer through takeovers. The international ClearChannel business is currently for sale and could be an interesting option.

Ocean Outdoor also has a 50 percent stake in the Swedish digital signage integrator Visualart. This participation is now probably on the list for sale in order to separate from the non-core business.

Leave a comment