'StuffMe' merger proposal rises from the grave

The twice-declined proposed merger between New Zealand’s two largest newspaper companies is not dead – at least in the eyes of the applicants.

NZME and Stuff (the media company formerly known as Fairfax New Zealand) have confirmed they will apply for leave to appeal the High Court decision to uphold the rejection of the transaction by the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC).

In an announcement to the NZX this morning, NZME claims that, although the High Court turned the appeal down, its findings “revealed that the NZCC had significantly understated the quantifiable public benefits from the proposed merger.”

These findings “increase the range of estimated quantifiable net benefits to the public arising from the transaction to $133 million to $209 million, up from the NZCC’s estimated range of $41 million to $204 million.”

The High Court nonetheless determined the anticipated loss of media plurality to outweigh those benefits and, as such, the applicants say their new appeal will focus on the issue of plurality.

Despite the High Court’s comprehensive view to the contrary, NZME and Stuff (née Fairfax NZ) have also restated their continued belief that the commission “was wrong in fact and wrong in law to decline clearance or authorisation of the merger.”

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