JCDecaux in Talks for News Outdoor

News Corp. may sell a billboard unit to JCDecaux, as the world's second-largest seller of outdoor advertising seeks to expand in Russia.

News Corp., a media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, and the French advertising company are negotiating the sale of News Outdoor Group, both companies said Thursday. JCDecaux said it would pay for the purchase using cash and shares.

JCDecaux will pay for News Corp.'s 80 percent stake in News Outdoor with more than $1 billion of new shares, Vedomosti reported, citing unidentified News Outdoor executives.

"The chances that it will go through are high because [JCDecaux] has said several times it wants to grow in Russia," said Bruno Hareng, an analyst at Oddo & Cie.

A News Outdoor spokeswoman confirmed the talks but declined to comment on the details.

Murdoch has expressed nervousness about investments in Russia, where News Outdoor generated the bulk of its revenues -- $385 million -- last year.

"We have great growing business there, but ... this is purely me, I'm sorry, the more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it," Murdoch told reporters last month.

Investigators briefly closed News Outdoor's Moscow offices earlier this week to search for evidence of criminal activity by a Moscow city official, according to the company, which said it was not the target of any investigations.

(Bloomberg, Reuters)