The Commerce Commission is warning it will be more vigilant than ever about anti-competitive behaviour as the economic recession deepens.
The commission says research suggests that struggling businesses can turn to price fixing, market sharing and bid-rigging during tough economic times.
Chair Paula Rebstock says the commission will make sure that business is aware that this will not be the easy option as it will test any applications "rigorously".
She says the commission has noticed a recent decline in takeovers, which she puts down to the lack of credit.
But that's expected to change, with more takeover applications using the argument that a business is at risk of failing.
The OECD and the International Monetary Fund recently warned governments that if relief measures are introduced which result in restricting competition, they should be temporary and monitored.
Ms Rebstock says the commission has taken note of that warning, and it will reinforce that message in New Zealand.