November 19, 2014 / 6:05 PM / 5 years ago

JCDecaux "cautiously optimistic" for outdoor ad sales next year

BARCELONA, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Outdoor advertising specialist JCDecaux said on Wednesday it was still hopeful about its sales prospects for next year, despite continued issues in Russia, its second-largest billboard market.

“I am cautiously optimistic about next year, but this is a short-term point of view. I’m not expecting 2015 to be a cracking year,” Jean-Francois Decaux, co-chief executive of the French company told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecoms Conference in Barcelona.

“France still has issues. Spain is in recovery. Russia remains difficult because the economy is affected by European sanctions. The media market in Russia will be down next year for sure,” he said.

The family-controlled group, which competes with smaller rivals U.S.-based CBS Outdoor and Germany’s Stroeer Media, earlier this month predicted that sales growth excluding acquisitions would be in the “low single digits” in the fourth quarter, leading to full-year underlying growth of “slightly above” 3 percent.

Asked on Wednesday whether JCDecaux was interested in acquisitions to increase its size in the United States, Decaux said the family had been considering such a move for many years.

Analysts have said CBS Outdoor could be a target for the French firm but Decaux outlined another option, namely building a digital billboard business on its own on the model of a billboard project now underway in Chicago.

“There is no rush to buy assets in the US,” he said. “We want to replicate the Chicago business model which could be a game changer and affects if we are interested in buying a whole bunch of billboards in the U.S.”

Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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