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Clear Channel denies outdoor sell-off talks

LONDON - Clear Channel has denied that it in talks with any other company, including rival JCDecaux, regarding the sale of its outdoor advertising business, Clear Channel Outdoor.

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In a statement released today, the company said: "Clear Channel Communications and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings today confirmed that they are not in discussions with JCDecaux, or any other company, involving the sale of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc, and have no current intention to effect a disposition of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings as a standalone business."

At the beginning of the month, Jean Francois Decaux, JCDecaux co-chief executive officer, said that he was interested in making a bid for the firm.

Clear Channel Communications, which has a majority stake in Clear Channel Outdoor, is understood to value the company in the region of $9bn (£4.5bn).

Decaux said: "Combining Clear Channel Outdoor and JCDecaux would create one of the few global media companies in the world with a lot of potential growth", adding "of course we're interested" when asked about any proposed acquisition.

Paris-based JCDecaux recently snatched the ad contract for panels on 50,000 UK phone boxes from Clear Channel Outdoor, in a five-year deal worth £5m. The contract, which begins in January 2007, was won from Clear Channel Outdoor after the company said it was not prepared to raise its bid.

JCDecaux also held off competition from Clear Channel Outdoor to win a 10-year advertising and naming rights contract for Los Angeles International airport in October, reportedly worth $200m.

On November 16, US radio group Clear Channel Communications, the controlling shareholder in Clear Channel Outdoor, was acquired by a private equity consortium for $19bn.

Clear Channel Communications spun off its outdoor advertising division into a separate company, which was floated in the US earlier this year. Clear Channel Communications retained a majority stake in Clear Channel Outdoor.

The buyers were from private equity firms Thomas H Lee Partners and Bain Capital, which had competition from another consortium made up of Providence Equity Partners, Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Clear Channel Communications' management team, led by founding family members and shareholders Mark and Randall Mays, is staying on board.

The company said that it was no longer willing to comment on market rumour or speculation regarding a sale.

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