The Commerce Commission, New Zealand’s antitrust regulator, has postponed its decision on the proposed merger of Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island. 

The commission is set to issue a statement of unresolved issues for the merger clearance application. 

The statement will seek additional input from both parties and other stakeholders, though it does not indicate a final decision or the commission’s inclination towards clearance or denial.  

Originally set for a resolution by 21 June 2024, the decision date will now be 1 October 2025. 

The delay is agreed upon by all the parties, and will allow for further investigation into potential competition issues. 

In January 2024, the New Zealand regulator issued a statement of preliminary issues concerning the merger. 

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Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island, currently operating as separate cooperatives, aim to consolidate into a single national grocery entity.  

They have a significant presence in New Zealand’s retail sector, with each operating under the New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square brands.  

The commission’s mandate is to ensure that such mergers do not significantly reduce market competition. 

The commission clarified its position in a statement: “We will give clearance to a proposed merger if we are satisfied that the merger would not be likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in a market.” 

This development follows recent legal actions by the commission against Foodstuffs North Island for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive land covenants, highlighting the regulator’s active role in maintaining fair competition within the industry.