Exclusive: After Bloomberg, Doctoroff eyes billboard company

(Reuters) - Daniel Doctoroff, the former chief executive of news and data provider Bloomberg LP, has launched a bid to buy Titan Outdoor, a company that provides outdoor advertising on buses in U.S. cities, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Doctoroff, who left Bloomberg last year, has partnered with a private equity firm in an effort to buy Titan, which won a bid last year to turn New York’s pay phones into Wi-Fi hotspots, the people said. Titan could be worth more than $150 million, including debt, two of the people added.

The negotiations are ongoing and there is no certainty that a deal will be reached, the people said. Titan is currently owned by the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, which may decide to sell the company to another party, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Doctoroff and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe declined to comment. Titan Outdoor did not respond to a request for comment.

Before joining Bloomberg, Doctoroff, 56, served as the Deputy New York City Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding under Bloomberg LP owner Mike Bloomberg. Previously, he worked at the private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.

Based in New York, Titan is present in 46 North American markets, including Seattle, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Its outdoor advertising can be found in buses, trains, telephone kiosks, street banners and airports.

Titan is one of the companies that is part of the CityBridge consortium, a group of companies that won a city contract to replace New York City’s payphones with a Wifi network called “LinkNyc”.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the network will be funded by advertising and generate $500 million in revenue for the city over 12 years.

About 10,000 Wifi hotspots will be installed across New York’s five boroughs, according to Titan’s website. The former pay phone sites will have free calls to anywhere in the U.S., and also offer charging stations for cell phones and a touch screen tablet with directions for tourists.

Other companies in the group include mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc QCOM.O, outdoor hardware maker Comark Corp and a design company called Control Group.

Outdoor advertising has been an active area for dealmakers in recent months. Private equity owners want to sell their assets while valuations are high, with companies such as Fairway Advertising and Van Wagner sold in the past 12 months.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Greg Roumeliotis in New York, Bernard Orr