NZME loses interim injunction against Stuff owner Nine

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 May 2020, 10:03AM
NZME lawyer Jack Hodder QC talks with Nine lawyer John Dixon QC. (Photo / Dean Purcell)
NZME lawyer Jack Hodder QC talks with Nine lawyer John Dixon QC. (Photo / Dean Purcell)

NZME loses interim injunction against Stuff owner Nine

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 May 2020, 10:03AM

The High Court has decided not to grant an interim injunction in a case involving NZME's attempts to buy rival Stuff.

This decision comes amid growing tensions between the two media companies.

In her judgment, Justice Katz declined to make the interim orders sought by NZME and dismissed the matter.

This means NZME has been unsuccessful in its attempt to enforce Nine to abide by the terms of a contract of exclusivity between the parties running until 31 May.

Jutice Katz said this decision does not determine which party was correct, but rather whether it was in the overall interests of justice to make the interim order sought by NZME.

The final determination of the issues will be made at trial.

At the trial on Friday, NZME's lawyer Jack Hodder QC told the court that confidential non-binding exclusive negotiations were entered into with Nine on April 23.

"For NZME to invest time and cost in pursuing a transaction it needed to undertake due diligence," he said, adding that the terms of the contract were binding and accepted by email.

"There was a contract of exclusivity, that period has not expired because the due diligence has not been provided. It hasn't come to an end."

NZME initially sought three weeks to complete extra, or "top up", due diligence on Stuff, but the parties ended up agreeing on two weeks once NZME received all relevant information.

Nine's legal team, led by John Dixon QC, said Nine felt the process had been frustrated and therefore terminated the negotiations.

The hearing followed an exchange of statements last week after NZME filed an urgent Commerce Commission application to purchase Stuff for a nominal sum of $1.

NZME said it has an exclusive agreement to negotiate the purchase of Stuff.

Nine responded with a statement saying the parties had withdrawn from the bid last week and had terminated talks.

NZME hit back, saying it still had exclusivity and ultimately took legal action to enforce it.