Jim Johnsen And Insider Talk Acquisitions

Insider asked out of home investment banker Jim Johnsen of Johnsen Fretty for an interview.  Like any savvy dealmaker, Johnsen turned the tables and asked to interview Insider.   Yesterday Johnsen and Insider talked about billboard lending.  Today Johnsen and Insider talk about Billboard Insider and Circle City Outdoor.

The billboard insider team left to right: John Weller, Dave Westburg, Jim Penney

Dave, besides being the publisher of Billboard Insider and an active lender, it turns out you are also an operator in the business.   How do you possibly find the time to do all three?  

We’ve got a good focused team.  John Weller and I handle Billboard Insider and the Billboard Loans lending business.  Jim Penney does our legal.  Joe Stephenson helps with Circle City Outdoor.  The beauty of the lending business is that once the underwriting is done the loans are throw off a nice profit without much work.

Dave, what’s new with your billboard company Circle City Outdoor? 

Our billboard company Circle City Outdoor was in the right place at the right time to purchase 12 structures in Indianapolis which the Department of Justice required Fairway and Clear Channel to spin-off as part of the Indy for Atlanta swap which the two companies did.  It was an as-is, where-is transaction but the price was compelling. 

That was an interesting and fortuitous acquisition.  I enjoyed assisting Adams/Fairway on that one.  I still remember placing that late night call to you from a hotel room in Savannah, shortly after Kevin Gleason brought the opportunity to my attention.  How the heck were you able to jump into action that quickly still baffles me.  I would be curious to know what it was like inside your shop from the time we had that first conversation until the time we executed the purchase agreement.  You seemed to move with deliberate intention through out the process.  That is not always the case with some of the buyers that I negotiate with.  Tell me more about how it looked and felt from your side.

There are advantages to being small.  You can be nimble.  You can move fast.  When we where approached I put my partners John Weller and Jim Penney on alert.  We drove the signs, read the leases and contracts, ran projections, had a phone call to discuss price and made the offer.  John and Jim handled the documentation and closing.  We had a mind-boggling conference call with a DOJ attorney, DOJ economist and some DOJ staffers.   They asked us to forward our written business plan.   Then they asked why they should have confidence that we knew what we were doing.  All this to get approval for a 12 sign purchase!  I bit my tongue and let my partner John Weller do the talking.  He’s got way more patience than me.

Jim, Circle City owes Johnsen Fretty a huge thanks for bringing the transaction to our attention and for helping to drive the transaction to a close.  Good things happen when you get to know Johnsen Fretty.


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