APN Outdoor and oOh!media have called off their merger, which would have created a billboard advertising group with a market capitalisation of $1.6 billion.
A short time ago, APN shares were up 2% to $5.03 and oOh!media were down 0.6% to $4.40.
The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) believes such a merger would likely result in a substantial lessening of competition in out-of-home advertising services.
The two companies disagree.
“Both parties maintain that the commercial reality is that out-of-home advertising competes extensively and directly with other media channels and as such a narrow market definition is inappropriate,” they said in a statement.
“The advertising market is increasingly dominated by online digital advertising services and a merger of the two businesses would enhance, rather than restrict, the development of the out-of-home advertising services in Australia.”
However, APN Outdoor and oOh!media say the ACCC’s position represents an unacceptable risk to a successful merger.
The merger, announced in December, would have created a company with 8,985 digital and 63,200 classic screens, including billboards on roadsides, rail, airports, retail, offices and other bespoke venues.