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”┬ásays 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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