September 16th, 2019
Ocean Outdoor acquires Visual Art Media as it expands European digital platform

Transaction takes Ocean into Nordic countries and Germany

Premium digital out-of-home media owner Ocean Outdoor Limited (LSE: OOUT) has today (September 16) acquired Visual Art Media, an independent digital out-of-home media and tech group operating in three Nordic countries and Germany.

The acquisition of Stockholm based Visual Art Media extends Ocean’s premium digital out-of-home (DOOH) presence in Northern Europe, adding Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany to the company’s DOOH portfolio in the UK and the Netherlands.

Visual Art Media is Sweden’s largest pure-play digital out-of-home operator with more than 260 locations across a mix of retail, rail and airport and leisure destinations across key cities including Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.  It operates emerging businesses in Denmark and Finland and is a partner of Unibail-Radamco-Westfield in Germany. Visual Art Media has the exclusive contract for 15 shopping malls in key cities including Berlin and Munich.

Visual Art Media’s revenue is 95% digital, representative of its strong DOOH locations.  The company, which employs 140 people, will continue to operate under its management team led by CEO Andreas Lind, supported and powered by the Ocean brand.

Ocean said its entry into new countries through Visual Art Media’s high growth, digital portfolio was a natural extension of its Digital Cities for Digital Citizens philosophy with Visual Art’s core in highly attractive international markets which are at the forefront of technological and digital innovation.

The Nordic countries top the European Commission’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2019. Finland is the EU’s best performing in digitisation, followed by Sweden (second) and Denmark (fourth). All three have similarly strong underlying OOH industry dynamics to the UK and the Netherlands where Ocean also operates.

Visual Art Media’s partnership with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield in Germany compliments Ocean’s long term partnership with an important landlord.  In the UK, Ocean holds exclusive external rights to two of the largest premium urban shopping malls in Europe, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford. The Visual Art partnership in Germany allows it to operate 400 DOOH faces in 15 shopping centres.

Commenting on the deal, Ocean CEO Tim Bleakley said: “Visual Art Media is an attractive business that we have long admired. The company combines great people with great assets in growing DOOH markets, offering impressive opportunities across a number of different business areas and multiple countries.

“We have a strong connection with Sweden and Visual Art Media through our board member, Martin HP Söderström. With his network of Scandinavian real estate firms we see good synergies and possibilities to grow Visual Art Media in the Scandinavian market further.

“This acquisition creates an enhanced offering which benefits all stakeholders, landlords, municipalities and advertisers along with the media and specialist agencies. We look forward to working with the management teams at Visual Art Media to combine their expertise with the Ocean brand and our Digital Cities for Digital Citizens philosophy.”

Stephen Joseph, Ocean COO and CFO, said: “Ocean now consists of strong platforms across the UK and Northern Europe with exciting opportunities to expand in our key areas of organic growth, tech innovation and further acquisitions. We are excited to be working with the individual market management teams to unlock the true value of DOOH.”

Commenting on behalf of Visual Art Media, CEO Andreas Lind and Hoss Khosravi, chief revenue officer, said: “Becoming part of Ocean allows us to enhance our objective to enlarge our digital footprint in domestic markets as well as our international ambitions to develop the digital out-of-home medium. Achieving this under the premium Ocean brand proposition marks an exciting new era for digital OOH advertising in the Nordics and Germany.”

About Ocean Outdoor Limited

Ocean Outdoor operates some of the most prestigious digital out-of-home (DOOH) locations in the UK and Europe. In the UK, Ocean continues to execute its three-pillar strategy, delivering good organic development following new city tender wins in Glasgow and Southampton, the rollout of new locations and screen investment.

The UK portfolio includes London’s Holland Park Roundabout, which forms part of the Company’s exclusive external rights to two of the largest premium urban shopping malls in Europe, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford; The Birmingham Media Eyes above New Street Station, Birmingham; Piccadilly Lights, owned by Landsec; and digital out-of-home (DOOH) networks across the top 12 UK cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Ocean also manages London’s BFI IMAX. Ocean’s portfolio of high-profile landlords and partners includes Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Southampton City Councils, Landsec, Westfield, the BFI and intu.

The integration of Ocean Scotland (formerly Forrest Outdoor Media) and a continued focus on Ocean’s Digital Cities for Digital Citizens philosophy has significantly augmented the Group’s position as an operator of high quality DOOH assets.

Strategic acquisitions that complement the existing DOOH portfolio remain a key pillar of the growth programme. This continued with three Dutch acquisitions in spring 2019, giving the company a significant share of the Netherlands market where it has become a major DOOH player.

About Visual Art

Visual Art is an international technology and media group with headquarters in Stockholm, and with offices in the Nordic countries, Germany, Spain and the USA. The company was founded in 1997 and has more than 140 employees. The business idea is to be a strategic partner to its clients through tech innovation and business driven digital communication. The digital network consists of more than 25,000 screens operating in 24 countries around the globe.

Visual Art Group helps global customers to create sustainable and future-proof communications solutions. Intelligent menu boards at McDonald’s in the Nordics and Europe, voice-controlled interactive digital mirror in the H&M-store at Times Square, giant LED at the Mall of Scandinavia shopping center in Stockholm and digital outdoor advertising in the Nordic region – Visual Art Group has a broad range in its offer. Selection of clients: McDonald’s, ICA, H&M, Circle K, 7-Eleven, Volvo, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Zalando, Daniel Wellington, iZettle, Nike and Disney.

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