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NZME and Stuff merger rejected by Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has rejected the proposed merger between NZME and Stuff.

The decision is the latest blow for NZME and Stuff since the two applied to amalgamate in 2015.

The first roadblock came when the Commerce Commission declared its preliminary decision was against the merger in November 2016.

That was followed by the announcement that the merger would not be approved in May last year and later a decision by the High Court to uphold that decision came in December.

  • Read what industry folks think about a merger between NZME and Stuff here

According to Stuff’s report on the latest development, its chief executive, Sinead Boucher, sent an email to staff explaining the merger was sought to ensure the delivery of “high quality independent journalism at scale for all New Zealanders”.

She added the decision was not what was hoped for and it will now forge ahead with its strategy to grow its Stuff and Neighbourly platforms, and new digital ventures, complemented by a strong portfolio of newspapers and magazines.

That portfolio has taken a hit this year, with February seeing an announcement that 28 mastheads would be sold or closed. And as of June, 25 titles had been closed, one had been sold and two were under review.

NZME has also seen numbers drop this year, with its profit for the six months ended June falling 53 percent to $3.7 million, which included a one-time investment of $3.1 million.

The underlying profit fell 18 percent to $23.2 million.

About the results, chair Peter Cullinane said: “Our underlying business continues to perform well in challenging market conditions, providing us with the capacity to undertake a number of exciting growth projects while still delivering returns to shareholders in the form of a 2.0 cent fully imputed half-year dividend.”

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