The Overseas Investment Office has granted its consent to the merger of SKY Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand. However, there is no suggestion, despite at least one press report to the contrary, that this decision will override the Commerce Commission’s rejection, in February of the deal on the basis that it would be anti-competitive.
In a decision issued today, 28 April, the OIO said the merger of the two companies met the criteria required by the Overseas Investment Act 2005.
“The application involved significant business assets and so to gain consent the applicants needed to demonstrate: their business experience and acumen; their financial commitment, and that those controlling the companies are of good character and meet certain criteria under the Immigration Act 2009,” it said, adding “the parties satisfied those criteria.”
The OIC said the fact that Vodafone and Sky were unsuccessful in their application to the Commerce Commission was not relevant to its assessment.
“The Commerce Commission test relates to competition in a market which is different to the criteria that the Overseas Investment Office is required to consider for an application involving significant business assets.”
The OIO web site cautions any potential overseas investor saying: “The OIO is responsible for administering New Zealand’s overseas investment legislation. For other consent requirements, you should seek legal or other expert advice from a professional adviser.” It provides a link to a list of related organisation that includes the Commerce Commission.