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Will they wont they: Stuff says NZME talks ‘terminated’

Despite an announcement on The Herald stating its parent company NZME had appealed to the Commerce Commission for the purchase of Stuff for $1, Stuff parent company Nine says the conversation was terminated last week.

NZME said it had requested to purchase Stuff by May 31, saying it is in the best position to keep newsrooms, jobs and mastheads, despite loosing 200 of their own jobs due to Covid-19.

NZME has spent the best part of five years attempting to buy Stuff, but has previously been declined Commerce Commission clearance. A previous bid to acquire the outlet was blocked in 2017 over competition concerns.

In a market announcement to the NZX, NZME revealed that it entered an exclusive negotiation period with Stuff’s Australian-based owner, Nine Network, on April 23.

However, Stuff and parent company Nine have stated in a release to the ASX that while Nine had had discussions with NZME regarding the acquisition of Stuff, “Nine has notified NZME that it has terminated further engagement with NZME”.

In a second statement to the NZX, on Monday afternoon, NZME acknowledged Nine’s statement that the talks had ended but appeared to question Nine’s right to turn its back on its approaches.

“NZME notes Nine’s announcement that it has terminated further engagement with NZME in relation to any acquisition of Stuff.

“NZME’s view is that it is still in a binding exclusive negotiation period with Nine and does not accept that exclusivity has been validly terminated,” it said.  

NZME’s original NZX statement on April 23 failed to mention the conversation between itself and Nine.

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