French outdoor media group hopes acquisition will raise mainland market share French outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux has completed its acquisition of Hong Kong-listed Media Partners International (MPI) in a move that will position the group as the top player in China's outdoor advertising market. JCDecaux, the world's second-largest outdoor media firm, forecast it would overtake its main rival, United States-based Clear Channel, by revenue this year - part of its increasingly aggressive play for the China market. The $770 million acquisition yesterday of 73 per cent of MPI brings to three the number of deals JCDecaux has struck in China. Earlier this year, it acquired leading transport media player Media Nation and last month, street furniture media firm Texon Media. CLSA Asia-Pacific Market was JCDecaux's financial adviser for the three deals. JCDecaux's bid comes amid increasing consolidation in China's fragmented outdoor media market where the annual advertising spending of $9 billion last year was carved up among 300,000 outdoor media firms. The top three players account for only 20 per cent of the market share. 'Further consolidation should be expected in the China market in future. In developed markets like the US, the top players account for 30 to 40 per cent of market share,' said Simon Dewhurst, CLSA's investment banking executive director. 'After the three acquisitions, JCDecaux gained a market share of 11 per cent on a pro forma basis to become the largest player in China.' The acquisition bumps Clear Channel's 50 per cent subsidiary Clear Media, which operates bus shelter media in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to the second spot while Tom Group, which has exposure in more than 13 cities, ranks third with a 3 per cent market share. US-based Viacom Outdoor also stepped into the mainland market recently by acquiring 70 per cent control of Magic Media, a Beijing bus advertising media firm. JCDecaux now operates a nationwide outdoor network of 95,000 advertising panels in China, including Hong Kong and Macau. It also has advertising contracts for more than 33,000 buses and metro systems in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. 'JCDecaux dominates the mainland metro advertising market as Media Nation and MPI both control advertising on the five lines of Shanghai Metro and the two lines of Guangzhou Metro,' Mr Dewhurst said. The next step for JCDecaux is to build a nationwide sales platform to boost its top-line growth. 'The company can increase revenue by adding cross-provincial sales to accompany the local sales team,' Mr Dewhurst said, adding that the profitability of the firm would improve now that Media Nation and MPI were no longer competitors. This could help to boost the two companies' occupancy rate, which hovers at 30 per cent to 50 per cent. Clear Media and Tom, meanwhile, command occupancy rates for their advertising space of about 70 per cent.