GCR 100 - 19th Edition

Russell McVeagh

20 December 2018

New Zealand

Sarah Keene helms a talented team at Russell McVeagh, which balances a considerable amount of contentious local work with a steady stream of multinational deals. Keene is backed by partner Troy Pilkington, along with two partners in the firm’s regulatory economics practice. The firm’s team dedicated to competition law has expertise across litigation, investigations, commercial advisory, merger filings and law reform and provides an integrated approach to competition, regulatory and public law.

The team is particularly notable for its strong working relationships with the NZCC, acting on more than one-third of all merger clearance applications handled by the NZCC in the past five years. Recent examples include advising Suncorp on the proposed acquisition of Tower NZ and Spark New Zealand, the largest communications company in the country, and its successful opposition to the merger of Vodafone NZ and Sky TV, which has now been abandoned. Pilkington acted for Trade Me, an online classified advertising platform for motor vehicle dealers, in its attempted merger with dealer management software provider Motorcentral. However, the NZCC in March 2018 decided that Trade Me was a potential competitor to Motorcentral and that the merger could entrench Trade Me’s power in the market for online classified advertising to auto dealers.

Keene and Pilkington were counsel on perhaps the highest-profile deal in the region: a tie-up between the country’s two largest newspapers and news websites, NZME and Fairfax. The companies defended the deal as a way to keep traditional newspapers in business while facing competition from digital platforms. But the High Court and Court of Appeal of New Zealand both ruled that NZME and Fairfax failed to show the deal’s benefits would outweigh its harm to competition.

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