Lamar Nears Deal to Buy Billboards From Fairway

(Bloomberg) -- Lamar Advertising Co. is nearing a deal to buy billboards from Fairway Outdoor Advertising in North and South Carolina, North Georgia and Wisconsin, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal could value the assets at about $416.5 million, one of the people said.

A representative for Fairway didn’t respond to a request for comment, and representatives for its private equity owner GTCR and for Lamar declined to comment.

Lamar, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is among the largest outdoor-advertising companies in the world, with more than 348,000 billboards and other displays in the U.S. and Canada, according to its website. Founded in 1902, today it is structured as a real estate investment trust.

Lamar is constantly looking for deals to bulk up its display portfolio and makes about $100 million in acquisitions a year for billboards, ground leases, advertising contracts and permits, Chief Executive Officer Sean Reilly said at an industry conference last month held by Wells Fargo & Co.

"It is still a very fragmented business," Reilly said, according to a transcript. "There’s a lot of mom-and-pop billboard operators out there. Typically, for us, these are fill-ins."

GTCR, which is based in Chicago, acquired Fairway in 2015. Fairway was exploring options including converting into a real estate investment trust, CEO Kevin Gleason said in an interview in May.

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