May 18, 2020 / 11:32 PM / 13 days ago

New Zealand media firm NZME drops bid to buy rival Stuff

(Reuters) - New Zealand media firm NZME Ltd (NZM.NZ) on Tuesday withdrew its application to the country’s Commerce Commission to allow it to buy major competitor Stuff.

NZME said it made the decision after the High Court in Auckland refused its bid for an interim injunction that would have forced Stuff’s owner, Nine Entertainment (NEC.AX), back into exclusive talks.

NZME had last week filed an urgent application with the Commerce Commission to purchase Stuff for the nominal sum of one New Zealand dollar, arguing that urgent consolidation was needed due to the coronavirus crisis. In response, Nine said it had terminated talks.

NZME said on Tuesday it was disappointed but respected the High Court’s decision.

“Should there be a credible buyer for Stuff who will protect jobs, newsrooms and mastheads then NZME believes this should be positive for New Zealand media,” it said in a statement.

“However, if this is not the case then NZME continues to believe that it would be best placed to sustain and support Stuff’s mastheads, newsrooms and jobs in the interests of maintaining a robust fourth estate and plurality of voice in New Zealand.”

The media industry in New Zealand and elsewhere is struggling with fast depleting advertising spending, threatening jobs and small outlets, as the coronavirus crisis forces companies to conserve cash.

Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan; editing by Jane Wardell

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