JCDecaux open to bidding for U.S. peers but nothing planned: CEO

Jean-Charles Decaux attends the Reuters Global Media Summit in Paris December 2, 2010. REUTERS/Mal Langsdon

PARIS (Reuters) - French outdoor advertising company JCDecaux JCDX.PA could consider bidding to take over U.S. competitors Clear Channel CCO.N or Outfront Media OUT.N but nothing is planned in the short term, its chief executive said on Saturday.

A possible bid by the French group for one of its smaller U.S. rivals has been discussed for over a year although it had said there was not yet a reasonable price.

Asked about potential acquisition projects for Clear Channel and Outfront Media, JCDecaux CEO Jean-Charles Decaux told finance weekly Les Echos-Investir: “Both could make sense but nothing is planned in the short term.”

“We have risen to the highest rank in all geographical areas except the United States, the world’s largest advertising market, where we are number four. If we had to do a structurally important deal, it would probably be in the United States, which has the potential to become our top geographical area,” he said.

To fund a merger or acquisition the Decaux family, which owns 64 percent of the group, could take part in a capital increase but would keep a majority share.

“We will be very picky, very vigilant, about the financial conditions. This must make sense operationally and strategically, but also from a financial point of view.”

Reporting by Dominique Rodriguez; Writing by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Dale Hudson