Titan prepares ground for Maiden acquisition

US private equity firm Titan Outdoor Holdings is using Smithfield for its acquisition of troubled outdoor advertising group Maiden.

Smithfield managing director John Kiely is advising Titan, which is buying Maiden at the knockdown price of £10.6m –  or 20p per share.

The agreed price is one twelfth of Maiden's share price last April. Back in 2002 Maiden shares were worth more than 500p.

Although Maiden has said it won significant contracts last year, the company's banks withdrew their support, making a sale of the company inevitable. Maiden had debts of about £39m, which Titan will now take on.

In December 2005 Maiden brought in investment bank Rothschild to sell the business.

The company's main UK competitors will be closely watching Titan's acquisition. In 1994, Titan chairman William Apfelbaum won the first contract to paste advertising in London Underground stations when he was in charge of TDI, which is now owned by Viacom.

Maiden and its competitors rent space from landlords and sell it to advertisers.

The firm's financial problems began with its successful bids last year for positions at UK railway stations and alongside rail lines. Titan has said that Maiden's contracts with Network Rail 'were of significant strategic importance to Maiden but placed an additional financial
burden on the company'.

The decline of Maiden
has led some to question whether there is room for smaller operators in a sector dominated by Viacom, the US's Clear Channel and France's JCDecaux.

Maiden's retained adviser Financial Dynamics will cease working for the company after the sale.

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