27 Feb 2017

Australian company sniffs around NZ radio assets

5:09 pm on 27 February 2017

An Australian radio company has confirmed it is interested in buying the radio assets of local media company NZME.

NZME signage

NZME hopes to merge its business with Australian-owned Fairfax. Photo: RNZ / Calvin Samuel

Southern Cross Media, which owns several radio and regional television stations, said it expressed interest in potentially buying NZME's radio stations, which include Newstalk ZB, The Hits, and ZM.

It said NZME refused to talk because of a proposal to join its business with the New Zealand businesses owned by Australia's Fairfax.

The merger would put most of the country's daily and weekend newspapers, the two leading websites, and the radio stations under one banner.

The Commerce Commission has already raised doubts about some parts of the merger. A decision is due by mid-March.

Southern Cross Media said it was only interested in the New Zealand radio stations if they could be separated from the print assets.

It said buying the New Zealand radio stations was in line with its plans to invest in new growth in the audio and entertainment sectors.

Last year there were unconfirmed reports that a private equity fund had been inquiring about buying the Fairfax newspaper assets, which include the Dominion Post, The Press, the Waikato Times, and two of the three Sunday newspapers. A price tag of around $120 million has been mentioned.

Last week the Commerce Commission turned down a bid by pay television operator Sky TV and telecommunications company Vodafone to merge because they would have had too much market dominance.

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