Spark the last Kiwi left standing?

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The announcement last night of a merger between Sky TV and Vodafone NZ is significant industry news, but it doesn’t change Vodafone competitor Spark’s business focus or our ambition to help New Zealanders make the most of the power of technology to unleash their potential, says Spark managing director Simon Moutter.

“The reality is that Spark has been competing successfully with a tightly integrated partnership between Vodafone NZ and Sky TV for a couple of years now,” Moutter said. “Vodafone NZ has been bundling and deeply discounting Sky TV products while Sky TV actively resells Vodafone NZ broadband.

“During that time Sky TV’s core subscriber base has declined while Vodafone NZ’s broadband base has had little or no growth since they acquired Telstra Clear nearly four years ago. As such, we don’t believe a merged Sky TV and Vodafone NZ poses a greater challenge to Spark than the existing partnership has achieved to date.

“From a competitive perspective, Spark competes hard with Vodafone NZ every day. But we don’t really see ourselves as competing head to head with Sky TV. The real competition in the future of media is with global over-the-top players like Netflix, YouTube and Apple or with direct-to-consumer premium sports content owners.

“We also note that in effect it is a proposal for a Vodafone Group reverse takeover of Sky TV, with the multinational Vodafone UK retaining a 51% share of the merged entity and Vodafone executives earmarked for top jobs and board appointments.

“More and more New Zealanders have been choosing Spark in the last few years, and their trust in us reinforces our commitment to New Zealand.

“Should this proposal clear the hurdles in its way, it would mean that Spark remains the only major industry player controlled from New Zealand, with 2 Degrees controlled out of the US, Vocus out of Australia and Sky TV/Vodafone NZ out of the UK.”

Moutter’s statement made no mention of an earlier Stuff story quoting Spark spokesman Richard Llewellyn as saying it was too soon to say whether Spark might lodge an objection with the Commerce Commission.

But reading Moutter’s strong comments above, you’d have to say an objection would be highly unlikely.

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