Groups battle over rights to Sydney's outdoor

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SYDNEY -- Rival consortiums headed by media barons Kerry Packer and Tony O'Reilly are battling for contracts to replace Sydney's street facilities such as litter bins, public toilets, bus shelters, ashtrays, newsstands and telephone booths because of their advertising space that could deliver $150m-plus, on present rates, over the next 20 years.

Packer has joined force with local advertising businessman John Singleton and the French design group JCDecaux, while O'Reilly has teamed with English outdoor advertising giant More.

The contract tender, which closes September 17, has attracted worldwide interest. So far eight local municipalities have joined Sydney Lord Mayor Frank Sartor's scheme to give the city a spruced up look by replacing and upgrading all street furniture before the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

John Welsh, president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Australia, says the tender is "onerous" as the contract requires both supply and maintenance of the facilities, and the street furniture returns to council ownership in the longterm.

The Packer consortium Manboom Pty Ltd bought almost 20 acres at Sydney international airport in 1995, which gave it control of 25 giant advertising billboards on key road accesses.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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