Lamar Advertising buys Marco Outdoor _lowres

Associated Press file photo -- Lamar Advertising in Baton Rouge, with more than 144,000 billboards and 1,900 digital displays nationally, is buying Marco Outdoor Advertising, expanding Lamar's presence in the New Orleans-area market.

Lamar Advertising Co., the Baton Rouge-based billboard giant, has acquired New Orleans-based Marco Outdoor Advertising Inc. and its more than 150 signs for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Most of Marco’s bulletins, the larger billboards found along interstates, are in New Orleans, particularly along the Pontchartrain Expressway and other major routes into the city. Marco also has signs in Covington, Mandeville, Slidell, Gonzales and Laplace.

Along with the traditional displays, Marco has six digital billboards.

The deal strengthens Lamar’s position in the New Orleans market, which Lamar Chief Executive Sean Reilly described as “a hive of economic activity.”

Marco owner Marc Winston said he enjoyed building the company over the past 27 years and being part of the New Orleans corporate community.

“I’m excited to be able to hand off the business to another Louisiana company. I wish Lamar the best,” Winston said.

The acquisition of Marco fits in with Lamar’s recent strategy of buying smaller billboard companies in large metro areas to improve its presence. In August 2013, Lamar announced it spent $24 million to acquire several companies, including Empire Outdoor Media, which owned about 500 billboards across southern California.

Founded in 1902, Lamar operates more than 150 outdoor advertising companies in 44 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, logo businesses in 22 states and the province of Ontario, Canada, and over 60 transit advertising franchises in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Lamar has more than 144,000 billboards, 1,900 digital displays and 34,000 transit displays.

Lamar’s stock was down 19 cents, or 0.4 percent, to close Tuesday at $50.72.

Advocate business writer Timothy Boone contributed to this story.