NZME says NZ High Court upholds move to block purchase of Fairfax unit

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 19, 2017 04:42 hrs

(Reuters) - NZME Limited , the owner of New Zealand's top-selling newspaper, said on Tuesday that the country's High Court upheld the competition regulator's decision to block its purchase of Fairfax Media Limited's New Zealand unit.

NZME said in a statement to the stock exchange it would review the full judgement when it was released, as well as the option to appeal the decision.

The appeal by NZME and Fairfax to the High Court was heard in October after the Commerce Commission barred the deal in early May, after considering it for almost a year.

The regulator's chairman said at the time the deal would concentrate media ownership and influence to an "unprecedented extent" for a well-established modern liberal democracy.

Under the proposed deal, NZME would have paid NZ$55 million ($38.47 million) for Fairfax's New Zealand operations and issued new shares to allow Fairfax to hold a 41 percent stake in NZME.

Both firms have been facing rising competition for advertising dollars from online peers.

Combining the assets would have helped to cut costs by up to NZ$200 million over five years, the two companies had said.

($1 = 1.4296 New Zealand dollars)

(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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