'StuffMe' merger proposal rises from the grave

Michael Boggs and Sinead Boucher, the chief executives of, respectively, NZME and Stuff (née Fairfax NZ).
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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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8 Comments & Questions

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Well, StuffMe -- why don't they just accept it's bad for everyone except themselves and move forward?!?

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That's shaping up to be one of the enduring mysteries of our time, but if I were to hazard a guess it'd be a lack of faith in their current strategies (if that's not too strong a word for the direction both companies have struck out in), along with a paucity of other ideas.

Which is surely a bit of a worry, given the whole merger exercise has been framed as a way to buy more time while they figure out what the hell to do instead...

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Rather like two skydivers thinking one shared parachute will be enough to save them as they plummet toward the inevitable.

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Better one that works than two that don't.

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True, as far as that goes. The worry is that so far there's little to no reason to believe a merged entity would work any differently from the way the two companies currently do -- other than a new laxness as a result of lessened competition.

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Better two that compete than one that wont!.

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Can the High Court also enforce a minimum standard of journalism whilst they consider the future of these two?

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Somewhere along the line here, the clickbait funded model meant i deleted the app - I'd already cancelled the paper subscription. The quality of journalism in my opinion had declined to the point of .... (I can't type this word in this forum), and the volume of untargetted, unattractive, and unwanted advertising had outweighed any value I might have received. I happily pay for a range of paywalled newspapers and magazines based in New Zealand and elsewhere which seem to have managed to find a more attractive balance between advertising and content and deliver me more informational and entertainment value. I'm afraid Ian Apperley's tandem skydivers theory seems most plausible to me, merger or no merger.

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