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InternetNZ: Scrutiny essential on ComCom's Vodafone-Sky decision

20 Feb 2017

InternetNZ has advised the High Court it supports requests to delay to proposed merger between Vodafone New Zealand and Sky.

The Commerce Commission is set to release its decision about whether or not the merger can go ahead on Thursday morning.

Several telecommunications companies, including Spark and 2degrees have requested a 36-hour delay in the merger should the Commission approve the deal.

"If the merger application is approved by the Commerce Commission, Vodafone and Sky will likely complete the merger almost immediately,” says InternetNZ deputy chief executive Andrew Cushen.

“This will mean that appropriate scrutiny of the Commission’s decision won’t be able to occur," he says.

InternetNZ has participated throughout this merger application process, raising concerns that the Vodafone-Sky merger may raise network neutrality issues and diminish competition for telephony and pay TV services.

"The Commission was clearly concerned about these matters as well - hence they took the unprecedented step of releasing the Letter of Unresolved Issues late in 2016," says Cushen.

The telecommunications companies’ applications to the High Court seeks an order to prevent the merger from being completed for 36 hours following the release of the Commission’s decision. This would allow the necessary analysis of the decision, if approval of the merger is granted.

"36 hours is the bare minimum amount of time to allow InternetNZ and other parties the opportunity to assess the Commission’s decision,” Cushen explains.

"This delay is vital to let us and others check whether the evidence and submissions presented during the merger assessment process have been heard and considered,” he continues.

"We need to make sure the merger - if approved - will not be to the detriment of New Zealand Internet, phone and TV users.

"InternetNZ supports the actions to ensure that any merger outcomes will not come at the cost of New Zealanders," says Cushen.

Meanwhile, in a statement to the NZX, Sky says it does not consider there to be any proper basis for the request, and says it "intends to oppose any such application and seek an undertaking as to damages."

A hearing time for these proceedings has been set down for Wednesday 22 February 2017 at 10:00a.m.

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