Hamburg court orders all billboards on public ground in Hamburg to be operated by JCDecaux
Right of pre-emption by Ströer unlawful
Paris, 5 July 2012 – JCDecaux SA (Euronext Paris: DEC), the world’s number one outdoor advertising company, announces that in its decision made on 29 June 2012 and enforceable with immediate effect, the Regional Court of Hamburg has fully sustained the action filed by JCDecaux against the split of back-lit scrolling 9m2 billboard locations on public ground in Hamburg between JCDecaux and Ströer. In 2007, following the tender of advertising rights, JCDecaux had been awarded the right to exclusively operate up to 140 back-lit scrolling 9m2 billboards (up to 840 advertising spaces) in Germany's second largest out-of-home advertising market. After the completion of this agreement on advertising rights between JCDecaux and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Ströer enforced a split of the advertising locations based on a so-called right of pre-emption or pre-emptive lease right contained in previous contracts. As a result, only 55 locations remained with JCDecaux, with the remaining 85 locations being attributed to Ströer. Following the recent decision of the Regional Court of Hamburg, all advertising units operated by Ströer must now be dismantled and the locations must be fully transferred to JCDecaux.
The decision taken by the Regional Court of Hamburg follows the view given by the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) in a detailed statement brought forward in the proceedings, which established the unlawfulness under cartel law, and thus the nullity, of pre-emption rights in general. These pre-emption rights had been agreed not only in the previous contracts in Hamburg, but also with almost all the cities where DSM Deutsche Städte Medien GmbH, acquired by Ströer in 2004, had been incumbent.
Jean-Francois Decaux, Co-CEO of JCDecaux, said: "We are very pleased that the court has followed the legal view held by us and by the German Federal Cartel Office and we look forward to being able to provide an exclusive network with the best back-lit scrolling billboard locations in Hamburg. Apart from the present case at hand, the decision will mark the end of the application of pre-emptive clauses in Germany. This will benefit competition in tender procedures. In the future, the bidder with the most attractive offer will always win."