Competition watchdog the ACCC will not oppose Nine’s proposed takeover of Fairfax Media.
The ACCC said Nine’s television operations and Fairfax’s main media assets do not generally compete closely with each other.
It noted Nine’s content is for a mass-market audience, while Fairfax’s publications provide more in-depth coverage for a subscription audience.
However, the ACCC considered that one area of “more direct overlap” was online news.
“While the merger between these two big-name media players raised a number of extremely complex issues, and will likely reduce competition, we concluded that the proposed merger was not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“We welcome the ACCC’s decision not to oppose the merger of Nine and Fairfax,” said Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine. “It is clear to us the ACCC were thorough in their considerations of the many submissions they received and we welcome this rigorous process, as this is first merger to take advantage of the government’s media law reforms. It is a clear acknowledgement of the changing competitive landscape in our industry, where the ability to compete across a variety of platforms and to engage different audiences is key.
“Our focus is now on securing the support of Fairfax shareholders on November 19.”
Subject to a positive shareholder vote (and subsequent court approval) the merger is expected to be completed on Friday, December 7 with the first day of business as a combined group on Monday, December 10.