APN Outdoor CEO James Warburton: “I’m A Salesman First And CEO Second”

APN Outdoor CEO James Warburton: “I’m A Salesman First And CEO Second”
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On Tuesday, APN Outdoor announced it had accepted a $1.2 billion bid from fellow outdoor media company JCDecaux.

At the time of the announcement, APN Outdoor issued a statement on the ASX to confirm it had entered a deal to be acquired by JCDecaux for $6.70 per share, valuing APN’s equity at $1.12 billion and its enterprise value at $1.22 billion, which was slightly higher than the original bid from JCDecaux last week.

Speaking to B&T, APN Outdoor CEO James Warburton said despite the deal being highly publicised, there is still “a lot of regulatory red tape” to get through.

Warburton took over from long-term APN Outdoor CEO Richard Herring in October of last year, with many speculating he had been picked to help facilitate a sale of the outdoor company.

While Warburton said he was tasked specifically with “reinvigorating” the business, he admitted, “I am a salesman first and a CEO second”.

“I was brought in to reestablish and reinvigorate the business, 2017 was a difficult year with the oOh!media merger.”

APN Outdoor and oOh!media were set to merge last year, however, faced with increasing resistance from the ACCC, the two outdoor companies decided to dump the merger.

For Warburton, the move had drastic implications on APN Outdoor’s performance for the rest of 2017.

“It was difficult, the market naturally migrated towards oOh!media as there was no presence from APN Outdoor at a senior level.

“We were faceless at the backend of 2017.

“There was uncertainty for staff, we didn’t have our sales mojo and we weren’t aggressive,” he told B&T.

Speaking on the future of his staff post-JCDecaux acquisition, Warburton hinted there had been no talk of cuts just yet.

“We’ve got an extraordinary business, there’s no overlap between our business and the JCD business in terms of categories.

“Obviously they’re predominantly street furniture and we’re billboards and transit, it’s a great business with a great team of people.”

Asked about his own future with the company, Warburton said, “Look, you know we’re only 24 hours into the deal being signed, so it’s a bit too early to speculate.”

The deal followed a spate of market consolidation, with oOh!media finalising its bid for Adshel on Sunday for $570 million after APN Outdoor made a bid for Adshel on Friday.

A part of oOh!media’s acquisition of Adshel, the deal stipulated the Adshel brand would be dissolved into the company within three months of the acquisition being finalised.

When asked whether APN Outdoor would suffer a similar fate, Warburton responded, “There has been no discussion of that just yet”.

 

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