JC Decaux pursues $810 million bid for Australia billboard firm APN

JC Decaux, which sells ads on bus stops and billboards, has offered A$6.52 per APN share, valuing APN at around A$1.09 billion. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2018
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JC Decaux pursues $810 million bid for Australia billboard firm APN

PARIS: French outdoor advertising company JC Decaux said it was still in talks with Australian billboard firm APN Outdoor Group over its offer to buy APN, currently worth around $810 million.
The statement from JC Decaux came after APN itself lost out in a bid for advertising firm Adshel, part of a series of deals in the lucrative Australian outdoor advertising market. The French group is one of four companies controlling an industry estimated to be worth some $660 million in Australia.
JC Decaux’s offer had in fact been conditional upon APN scrapping its $424 bid for HT&E’s Adshel outdoor advertising division Adshel. A deal for APN to buy Adshel would have increased the competitive pressure on JC Decaux’s local business.
JC Decaux, which sells ads on bus stops and billboards, has offered A$6.52 per APN share, valuing APN at around A$1.09 billion ($808.8 million).
“Until a transaction is agreed between the parties, there is no certainty that the proposal will result in any transaction. JC Decaux will continue to update the market in relation to the proposal,” JC Decaux said in a statement.
Last week, APN had called JC Decaux’s offer “modest” and had decided against backing down on its proposal to buy Adshel. In the event, APN was beaten out by rival Ooh!Media Ltd. in the fight to buy Adshel.
JC Decaux shares were up 0.5 percent on Monday, while shares in APN had been temporarily suspended.
APN and Ooh!Media rank first and second in the billboards and outdoor advertising market in Australia, according to research firm IBISWorld. JC Decaux ranks as the third-biggest in Australia, while HT&E ranks fourth.
The mergers and acquisitions activity within the Australian outdoor advertising sector has drawn close scrutiny from regulators, which had last year blocked a merger between APN and Ooh!Media.


Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

Updated 10 min 20 sec ago
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Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

  • By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000
  • Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws
LONDON/COPENHAGEN: Danske Bank’s money laundering scandal spread on Friday as Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it is investigating the use of UK-registered companies.
“This is a giga scandal,” European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, joining a growing chorus of calls for a clampdown on the billions of euros which are alleged to have been “washed” through European banks.
An NCA spokeswoman said the British agency was working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use UK-registered companies in money laundering.
British and Russian entities dominate a list of accounts used to make €200 billion ($236 billion) in payments through Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia between 2007 and 2015, many of which the bank said this week are suspicious.
By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000, Danske Bank’s investigation revealed, ahead of clients from Russia, the British Virgin Islands and Finland.
As the scope of the alleged money laundering through Danske Bank has widened, investor concerns over the potential penalties it could face have increased, with particular focus on what action if any US authorities might take against the bank.
So far, the US has not said whether it is investigating, although Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws. He has declined to share the bank’s conclusion of this.
“We need to do more to prevent money laundering from happening,” Vestager told reporters in Copenhagen following the resignation on Wednesday of Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen after an investigation commissioned by the bank exposed past control and compliance failings.
Borgen, 54, was in charge of Danske Bank’s international operations including Estonia between 2009 and 2012.
He said on Wednesday that he had been “personally cleared from a legal point of view” while Danske said its board had not breached their legal obligations.
The European Commission last week recommended banking supervision changes, including bolstering national authorities, but stopped short of setting up a new financial crime agency called for by the European Central Bank.
In a sign of the growing pressure on Danske Bank, which already faces criminal inquiries in Denmark and Estonia, the chief executive of CARE Danmark said on Twitter that the Danish charity had decided to end its relationship with the lender.
International aid charity Oxfam also called on Danish municipalities to cut ties with the bank, saying it has not been able to re-establish the trust of Danish citizens.
The mayor of Aalborg, Denmark’s third largest municipality, said he would discuss its partnership with Danske Bank at the next municipality committee meeting, but noted that there were only two banks in Denmark would be able to handle a municipality its size.
“Danske Bank has been involved in money laundering which is deeply reprehensible and outrageous but Nordea has been involved in tax havens, so the entire bank sector needs to clean up for us to have a trusting collaboration with the banks,” Thomas Kastrup-Larsen said.
Danske Bank’s tiny Estonian branch accounted for as much as 10 percent of group profit during the period when suspected money laundering was conducted via its operations there.