CBS Outdoor to go after more ad dollars as new company

NEW YORK, March 28 Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:01am EDT

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - CBS Outdoor Americas' top executive says he plans to convince top advertisers to move more of their dollars toward billboards and other displays as the company splits from media broadcaster CBS on Friday.

Jeremy Male, the chief executive of CBS Outdoor Americas, said in an interview that in the U.S. outdoor media represents less than 5.0 percent share of advertising dollars, while in rest of the world that number is 8.0 percent.

"The top 50 advertisers only spend 2.0 percent of revenue on outdoor," said Male, who joined the company in September after serving as one of the top executives at the world's largest outdoor company JCDecaux SA. "We see a great opportunity to work hard and develop that advertiser base."

CBS Outdoor Americas will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "CBSO" on Friday. Late Thursday, it priced its initial public offering at $28 per share, valuing the outdoor advertising company at about $3.36 billion.

CBS, the most watched broadcast network in the United States, will initially hold an 83 percent stake in the new company that will trade as a real estate investment trust (REIT).

The move to spin off the outdoor unit is part of CBS's larger plan to stake its future on more content.

"This seemed like a very good financial idea to do a transaction that would unlock the value in CBS Outdoor," said CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves.

"It enables us to get quite a bit of capital to go forward with our desire to increase our profile in the content business."

CBS Outdoor has about 329,100 displays in the U.S. - including in desirable locations such as the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and Grand Central Station in New York - and about 26,100 displays across Canada and Latin America.

Male said the company will invest money to turn more of its displays digital. Currently about 1.5 percent are digital.

"If you are looking for cover and frequency on a particular demographic, people's travel patterns are repetitive," Male said. "It's a great argument for greater efficiency for advertising dollars."

CBS Outdoor competes with Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc and Lamar Advertising Co.

In 2013, CBS Outdoor reported revenue of $1.3 billion and net income of $143.5 million.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)