A few strokes of a regulator's pen led to investors adding nearly $332 million to Chorus' value while wiping more than $174 million off Spark's value yesterday, even though it is just a draft decision.
The Commerce Commission revised upwards the price the phone lines company, Chorus, can charge telecommunications retailers such as Spark for using its copper lines by $4.70 a month.
The corporate regulator also revised down further the amount Chorus can charge for using its broadband services over those copper lines by 75 cents to $10.17.
Spark said the decision meant its annual costs would rise by about $60 million, while Chorus said it could add $90 million a year to its operating earnings.
Spark's regulatory affairs general manager John Wesley-Smith said the commission's decision was a bolt from the blue and added considerable uncertainty to the industry.
Spark, formerly named Telecom, is now reviewing all its broadband and fixed voice customer pricing.
Mr Wesley-Smith said intense competition meant prices in the industry had already dropped as a result of previous commission decisions.
Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said it was the first regulatory decision to go his company's way but a key decision the commission had not made yet was whether to backdate the lines pricing decision.
He said the Commission had indicated it would put out a consultation document next week which impacted the time the price would apply from.
Mr Ratcliffe said backdating the increase for a couple of years could be quite a substantial amount of money.
Another phone retailer, CallPlus, which owns Orcon and Slingshot, said the decision "grabs a few extra bucks a month from every New Zealand household and transfers it to Chorus' shareholders".