oOh Media closes lower after flat ASX debut

OoOh!Media's Brendon Cook.
OoOh!Media's Brendon Cook.

CHAMP Private Equity's float of outdoor advertiser oOh!Media had a flat debut on the ASX, closing its first session down 1.6 per cent.

The stock began trading at midday on Wednesday at $1.80, a 6.7 per cent discount to its $1.93 offer price. By the close it had closed the gap to a 1.6 per cent discount to the offer price at $1.93, indicating a market capitalisation of $284.8 million.

Private equity owner CHAMP remains the largest shareholder in the company with an 32.2 per cent stake after the float, which raised $168.8 million through the sale of 58.3 per cent of the company.

CHAMP along with other pre-existing shareholders have entered voluntary escrow arrangements on their remaining shares. Advertsising company WPP retains a 8.6 per cent stake, while management control 1.4 per cent.

oOh Media chief executive Brendon Cook said the fwloat would give the company the flexibility to make acquisitions. But he said oOh! would be looking no further than its own backyard in the Australian and New Zealand markets. "Any further than that for us would be because we have peaked in those environments, and we are a long way from peaked in the Australian and New Zealand ­environments," Mr Cook said.

oOh! controls 34 per cent of the outdoor (out-of-home) advertising market in Australia, after it bought Eye Corp from Ten Network Holdings in 2012. Mr Cook has previously ­indicated room for more company plays in the out-of-home market, saying the medium had managed to retain its audience, while others, such as television and print, have suffered a decline in advertising spending.

He is forecasting the out-of-home advertising sector to increase its ­market share to 6 per cent in the next few years from what is now just under 5 per cent.

Outdoor's ability to ­continue to reach a mass audience through traditional billboards, while expanding into digital signs in ­shopping centres, airports and pubs, is at the core of Mr Cook's upbeat ­assessment.

But he said digital doesn't just mean electronic signage, saying oOh! was "engaging more into the social, mobile and online world", and acquisitions were a part of that strategy.

"We will continue to explore any acquisition that we think is going to drive the business's long-term value . . . so we're not only a strong traditional out-of-home company, we are a new out-of-home company.

"We're delivering product and product innovation technology, which allows us to pitch for more business and ways to deliver business like never before like time-sensitive, weather-sensitive, a whole range of different strategies. At the end of the day when you have a safe audience, you have a real engagement to the growth engine of online, which is mobile, you are really in a position to enliven."

oOh! has increased the number of its digital signs from 635 to 1700 across Australia in the past three years. These signs reach tens of thousands of people daily in key shopping centres such as the Macquarie Centre in Sydney and Emporium, Melbourne.

The company is moving more into content, with audiences being able to use technology such as QR codes to access special offers on their own mobile devices.

"All investment in digital is designed to help advertisers build greater engagement with the consumer beyond the initial touch-point of seeing the sign," Mr Cook said.

"This has been one of the driving principles behind the oOh! digital strategy that we have been rolling out over the past three years."

This story oOh Media closes lower after flat ASX debut first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.