NEW YORK CITY-CBS Corp. said Wednesday it plans to convert its CBS Outdoor Americas unit, which offers advertising media ranging from billboards to the exteriors of subway cars, into a REIT. Simultaneously, the company plans to sell off its outdoor-advertising business in Europe and Asia, which it will present as a discontinued operation as of Dec. 31, 2012.
A CBS insider tells GlobeSt.com that the company had found value in the assets that it needs to unlock. Further, the company has been aware of a trend toward such specialty REITs, as well as Wall Street’s positive response to the trend.
“We believe the moves we are announcing today will unlock the tremendous value of these unique quality assets,” Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, says in a statement. “We have studied the benefits of converting our Americas operations into a REIT, and we are increasingly enthusiastic that this transaction—as well as the sale of our business in Europe and Asia—will achieve significant value for our shareholders.”
David Bank of RBC Capital Markets told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the REIT spinoff and sale of overseas operations could unload assets valued at $5 billion to $6 billion. Further, Moonves and other key executives have hinted in recent months that they consider the outdoor-ad operations a non-core component of the business, according to the WSJ. Outdoor advertising accounts for about 13% of CBS’ revenue but a lower percentage of its profits.
CBS says that as part of its plan to convert the Outdoor Americas division into a REIT, it will submit a request for a private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service during the first quarter of 2013. Assuming that the ruling is granted, the company could complete the REIT conversion in the taxable year beginning in 2014, subject to customary approvals.