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Fairfax, APN in NZ merger talks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/05/2016

Two of New Zealand's biggest media companies are in merger talks and they want a deal done by the end of the year.

Fairfax Media and APN on Wednesday said they are in preliminary talks about what structure a merger of their New Zealand businesses would take.

Fairfax NZ publishes a host of newspapers including the Dominion Post, The Press and the Sunday Star-Times, along with the news website

APN's New Zealand arm, NZME, publishes the New Zealand Herald and has a number of radio stations in its stable including Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport and ZM.

Between them, the two companies employ 3000 staff.

Fairfax and APN say their New Zealand businesses are "to a large extent, complementary".

However, any merger would be subject to Commerce Commission approval and an application is expected to be lodged in the coming weeks.

It'll also be subject to other regulatory consents, agreement of the two boards and the companies' shareholders.

The companies hope to have a deal confirmed by the end of the year.

But the journalists' union E Tu has "grave concerns" about potential job losses and the impact the proposed merger will have on the quality of local journalism.

"This means the content of diverse major news publications will be pared back to just one key generator of comment," E Tu's national media organiser Paul Tolich said.

"This would seriously affect the future of newsgathering by journalists because these assets are key sources of hard news."

Fairfax chief executive and managing director Greg Hywood says the potential merger would "enhance the position the businesses are in to continue to deliver high quality, local content to audiences now and in the future".

APN chief executive Ciaran Davis says the merger would allow investment in local news, sport and entertainment at a time when advertising dollars are becoming increasingly fragmented.

Irrespective of whether it goes ahead, APN plans to demerge its NZME business and list it on the Australian and New Zealand stock exchanges next month.

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