Lamar sells billboards in region 1,450 signs were included in acquisition last week

February 13, 1997|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Lamar Advertising Co. Inc., which earlier this week agreed to acquire Penn Advertising Inc., said yesterday that it would sell Penn's 1,450 billboards in the Baltimore area to Universal Outdoor Inc.

Keith A. Istre, chief financial officer of Baton Rouge, La.-based Lamar, said Universal has agreed to pay $46.5 million for all of Penn's outdoor displays in the Baltimore area.

Penn, which controls about 70 percent of the billboard market in the Baltimore metropolitan area, had agreed to be acquired by Lamar for $167 million.

Istre said that the Penn operation in Baltimore did not fit the market traditionally served by Lamar.

Founded in 1902, Lamar specializes in outdoor advertising in smaller cities. Istre said the company concentrates its business in cities that rank 50th to 250th in terms of population. "Nashville is the nation's 50th largest city," he said. "We like to advertise in cities the size of Nashville or smaller. That's the way we have been doing business for nearly 100 years.

"Baltimore is too big for us."

The proposed sale, which is to be completed simultaneously with the consummation of the Penn acquisition, is also subject to federal regulatory approval.

Lamar operates in 15 mid-Atlantic, Southeastern and Midwestern states.

In addition to its billboard business, Lamar operates the largest logo sign business in the country. Istre explained that this is the business of supplying food, gasoline and lodging signs along the nation's interstate highways and then selling the advertising space on the signs to nearby businesses.

As part of an on-going consolidation within the outdoor advertising industry, Universal agreed last November to acquire Baltimore-based Revere National Corp. for $125 million.

Revere has its corporate headquarters in Baltimore, but the majority of its 190 employees are scattered throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Most of its 6,100 billboards are located in Philadelphia, Washington, Wilmington, Del., and Salisbury.

Chicago-based Universal, a leading outdoor advertising company, has about 21,100 billboards in 14 the Midwest and Southeast.

Pub Date: 2/13/97

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