Clear Channel Outdoor CEO says no current plan to become REIT
(Reuters) - Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc (CCO.N), the world's second-largest outdoor advertising company, has no current plans to convert into a real estate investment trust (REIT), Chief Executive William Eccleshare said.
Shares of the company have risen 10.5 percent since rival CBS Corp (CBS.N) said last Wednesday that it planned to turn its outdoor business in the Americas into a publicly traded trust.
Another competitor, Lamar Advertising Co (LAMR.O), which has operations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, also announced plans to convert into a REIT last August.
"We've absolutely no plans at the moment to make any changes to our financial structure," Eccleshare told Reuters.
About 89 percent of the company is controlled by Clear Channel Communications Inc, which is owned by a private equity group comprising Bain Capital Partners LLC among others.
Converting to a REIT reduces a company's tax burden, but also requires it to distribute at least 90 percent of its profit among shareholders.
CBS, best known for its broadcast network, also said it will sell its outdoor advertising businesses in Europe and Asia.
Eccleshare, who will complete a year as CEO on Thursday, said he was not considering buying CBS's assets.
"CBS's price expectation has been exceptionally unrealistic in the past," he said. "At the moment I am not spending a lot of time considering what we might or might not do."
Eccleshare told Bloomberg in June that Clear Channel would "look at" buying CBS's outdoor assets, but considered the $6 billion asking price reported by Wall Street Journal as too high. (link.reuters.com/fen45t)
"We are always going to be interested in developing our assets if the price is right," he told Reuters on Wednesday.
Clear Channel, which ranks behind France's JCDecaux SA (JCDX.PA) in an industry that has only a few big players, does not see CBS's plans to sell its international assets affecting its business.
"It's not going to change things very significantly for us," he said.
Shares of Clear Channel, which has a market value of $2.8 billion, closed down about 2 percent on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
(Editing by Joyjeet Das)
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