New Zealand’s SKY Network Television (SKY) and Vodafone New Zealand have confirmed the filing of appeals in the High Court against the Commerce Commission’s (ComCom’s) decision not to clear their proposed merger. In a press release issued by SKY, it noted that both it and Vodafone were filing the appeals within the statutory time period in order to preserve their rights. The pair say they have been forced into taking legal action as they are still awaiting the release of ComCom’s reasoning behind its decision to reject the merge plans, which they will need to assess before progressing any appeal. According to SKY, it expects the regulator’s explanation of its rejection to be released ‘in the coming weeks’.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in June 2016 SKY – which is New Zealand owned and not part of the European satellite TV group of the same name – agreed to acquire all shares in Vodafone NZ for a total purchase price of NZD3.437 billion (USD2.33 billion) through the issue of new SKY shares – giving UK-based Vodafone Group a 51% interest in the merged company – plus a cash consideration of NZD1.250 billion, to be funded through new debt. The merged SKY/Vodafone entity would have been controlled by Vodafone Group. However, last month ComCom rejected the proposed takeover, citing concerns over the negative impact on competition in the broadband and mobile communications markets. Chair of the Commerce Commission Dr Mark Berry stated that the watchdog had outlined its concerns over the merger in October 2016 and subsequent submissions had not resolved these worries.