Ocean Outdoor sold to the private equity arm of Lloyds bank for £35m

Outdoor ad firm owns sites such as London’s Imax, Eat Street at Westfield and Two Towers West on Hammersmith flyover

Ocean Outdoor, the outdoor advertising company that owns sites including London’s Imax, has been sold to the private equity arm of Lloyds bank for £35m.

The company operates 28 sites across the UK, although London is the company’s main market, and specialises in eye-catching digital advertising sites including Eat Street at Westfield shopping centre and Two Towers West on the Hammersmith flyover.

Ocean has been acquired by private equity company LDC, which bought the business internet arm of BSkyB’s Easynet for £100m in 2010 and Learndirect for £40m last year. LDC a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group.

Daniel Sasaki, managing director of LDC London, said the plan is to immediately strengthen the small-scale Ocean Outdoor against its much bigger international rivals in London and across the UK’s 10 biggest cities.

“[Plans include] further expansion of the company’s premium iconic locations, pioneering new digital technology and engaging with a wider client base as digital out of home converges with mobile audiences,” said Sasaki.

Ocean is being sold by Smedvig Capital, which acquired the business in 2008 and invested £5.7m.

Smedvig has investments including PPC, which makes film trailers for Hollywood studios and is chaired by former UK Film Council head Stewart Till, and Zipcar.

Ocean Outdoor claims it generates more revenue and profit per location than its larger rivals such as JC Decaux, Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor.

Tom Goddard, chairman of Ocean, said that key management including chief executive Tim Bleakley will remain with the business following completion of the deal.

“Securing the backing of a partner of the calibre of LDC is a strong endorsement of the Ocean Brand and management team,” he said. “They will be remaining with the business and guiding Ocean in its continuing role as the leader of this exciting market sector. I believe this news, which helps secure Ocean’s independence, will be welcomed across the whole media industry.”

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