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NZ: Vodafone and Sky face Court delay

Vodafone New Zealand is in the process of absorbing Sky Network Television in a $2.45 billion merger agreement. But the New Zealand High Court is being asked to ‘stay’ a possible decision on approving the deal by local telco Spark New Zealand.

The country’s Commerce Commission is due to announce its decision on the merger on February 23rd, and the legal action – due to be heard on February 22nd – is asking the High Court for a 36-hour delay in the event that the Commerce Commission approves the merger.

Last week Sky rejected a request by Spark, Trustpower and Internet New Zealand, to delay implementing the merger if it gets the green light from the competition watchdog this week. Spark, along with mobile company 2degrees and Internet NZ, has filed for a High Court ruling to delay the merger being implemented, assuming it is approved, so opponents can have a “breathing space” to consider what will be a major decision for the country.

“We believe this is a reasonable ask in the context of what’s been a nine-month process already, and is the right thing to do to protect the integrity of the commission’s process and the legal rights of interested parties,” said Spark’s GM/regulatory affairs, John Wesley-Smith.  “This is a merger proposal with high public interest that has huge implications for consumers with the prospect of less choice and higher prices.”

Sky TV has consistently said it will refuse to delay putting the merger into effect if it is approved. “Sky does not consider that there is any proper basis for seeking an interim stay and Sky intends to oppose any such application and seek an undertaking as to damages,” said a Sky statement.

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