CBS Sells Overseas Billboard Business

CBS took another step toward becoming a pure content company today by agreeing to sell CBS Outdoor International for about $225M to Platinum Equity. The private equity firm’s irrevocable binding offer is “a key strategic milestone for CBS” that represents “very good value” says company chief Les Moonves. He said in January that he wanted to sell the overseas billboard business, and turn the U.S. and Canadian operation into a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). The price for the international unit was a pleasant surprise to Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker: With Europe’s economic woes, she says that she expected it to fetch no more than $170M. Platinum Equity CEO Tom Gores called the deal “a complex carve out that required real collaboration between buyer and seller with a strong emphasis on quality of execution.” He vowed to “move quickly to complete a seamless transition and create real value in this business.” CBS’ operation is one of the largest out-of-home advertisers in the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and China. The unit was deemed a “discontinued operation” on CBS’ Q1 income statement; the company’s discontinued units lost $36M in the quarter before adding in a $16M income tax benefit. CBS shares are -0.6% in mid-afternoon trading.

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