Competition law in New Zealand
Bell Gully has a diverse client base of blue-chip corporates, which the firm assists with major M&A transactions. The practice also handles numerous multi-jurisdictional transactions with local aspects, and is also highly regarded for its work in cartel matters. It recently handled some of the most important transactions in the market, which included acting for Vodafone Group Plc in its sale of Vodafone New Zealand Limited to a consortium of Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management Limited. In Auckland, practice head Torrin Crowther is widely recognised as one of the country's leading competition lawyers. The firm's specialist lawyers include special counsel Glenn Shewan and rising star senior associate Michael Tilley. Key partner Simon Ladd and, in Wellington, Jenny Stevens are the key litigation partners.
“The firm has a dedicated competition team that provides high-quality and timely advice. It is enjoyable to deal with.”
“Torrin Crowther, Glenn Shewan and Michael Tilley all stand out. Michael is certainly an associate to watch.”
Air New Zealand
- Advised Vodafone Group Plc on its sale of Vodafone New Zealand Limited to a consortium of Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management Limited for NZD$3.4bn, making it one of the largest New Zealand M&A transactions on record.
- Advised Fletcher Building Limited on the acquisition of Waikato Aggregates.
- Advising GlaxoSmithKline on its proposed acquisition of the Consumer Healthcare Division of Pfizer.
- Advised software developer MYOB on the proposed acquisition of Accountants Group business of Reckon Limited.
- Advised Fletcher Building in relation to the sale of its 20% shareholding in Dongwha New Zealand to Daiken New Zealand Limited.
The competition and regulatory practice at Chapman Tripp has a prominent role in competition, regulatory and antitrust cases, and it handles merger approvals, abuse of market power, cartel activity, anti-competitive arrangements, resale price maintenance, compliance audits and training programmes. Among its clients are some of the nation’s largest corporates, key government and financial institutions, major primary sector operatives, core infrastructure providers and multinationals operating in New Zealand. Practice co-head and regulatory specialist Neil Anderson is the key contact in Wellington, where consultant Grant David remains actively involved in merger clearances and contentious competition matters, and up-and-coming partner Lucy Cooper plays a key role in the practice. In Auckland, practice co-head Matt Sumpter provides anti-trust and intellectual property advice.
Neil Anderson; Matt Sumpter
“The firm has a standalone competition practice in Wellington that provides excellent and pragmatic advice.”
“Out of the big three NZ law firms, the Chapman Tripp team probably has the biggest competition team, at least at the partner level. The team is also very strong on the regulatory front, which is reflected in its strong Wellington presence.”
“Each of the partners in the team is top notch, and very enjoyable to work with.”
“The team has excellent understanding of the wider political and social environment impacting our business, in addition to the market dynamics and the usual excellence in understanding of relevant law. Fantastic submission writing ability.”
“Lucy Cooper is a very clever and personable partner, who is always available, understands the market dynamics and legal issues quickly and can write well constructed and convincing submissions.”
“Andy Nicholls and Frank McLaughlin provide senior, politically savvy insights for our business.”
Twentieth Century Fox
Philip Morris International (PMI)
Gebr. Knauf KG
The Warehouse Group
Shell Investments NZ
- Advising Netflix, Amazon, Sony, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount, and Universal Studios on the government’s proposed reform of the antitrust treatment of intellectual property rights.
- Counsel to Ingenico in securing its Commerce Commission clearance to acquire Paymark, New Zealand’s electronic payment switching operator.
- Counsel to PMI, the world’s leading tobacco company, in the most significant misuse of market power case to come before the New Zealand courts in over a decade.
- Advised Knauf on its global merger with USG Corporation.
- Defended New Zealand’s largest retailer, The Warehouse Group, against criminal competition and consumer law charges brought by the New Zealand Commerce Commission following an extensive investigation into subsidiary Noel Leeming.
The competition and economic regulation group at MinterEllisonRuddWatts handles some of the largest and most high-profile competition law matters in New Zealand, which in 2018 included assisting Refining NZ with the New Zealand Commerce Commission’s first-ever market study into retail fuel. Siemens AG and GasNet are also among the firm's key clients. The practice frequently works with MinterEllison in Sydney on trans-Tasman mergers. In Auckland, former regulator Ross Patterson is a senior statesman of competition law and has 25 years' experience. Special counsel Melanie Tollemache and rising star senior associate Kristel McMeekin play central roles in the practice. In Wellington, key partner Oliver Meech is one of the market leaders in competition and consumer law.
Other key lawyers:
“The practice is very knowledgeable and experienced. It provides practical advice on how to overcome obstacles and an assessment of the risks of different approaches.”
“We value the strength and depth of knowledge of the team and its commercial approach to practical changes.”
Refining New Zealand
Television New Zealand Limited
H.J. Heinz Company (New Zealand) Limited
Mercury New Zealand Limited
Spark New Zealand Trading Limited
Tegel Foods Limited
GO Healthy New Zealand Limited
- Acted for Siemens AG in its successful application for NZCC clearance of the New Zealand aspects of this global rail mobility sector merger.
- Advising Refining New Zealand in relation to NZCC retail fuel market study.
- Advised GasNet in relation to the NZCC’s investigation into whether the acquisition by First Gas Limited of GasNet’s distribution pipeline assets in Papamoa substantially lessened competition in breach of the merger provision in section 47 of the Act.
- Advised H.J. Heinz Company (New Zealand) Limited in relation to the divestment undertaking which was a condition of the NZCC granting clearance for Heinz Wattie’s to acquire Cerebos Gregg’s.
- Advised oOh!Media on the New Zealand competition law aspects of its merger with Adshel.
Russell McVeagh has a highly respected multi-disciplinary practice that advises on many of New Zealand's most high-profile competition law matters. The firm's dedicated public, regulatory and competition practice handles structuring joint venture and exclusive supply arrangements. obtaining clearances and authorisations for mergers, responding to investigations and prosecutions by the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC), working with economic advisers, and acting on appeals of NZCC decisions. In Auckland, practice head Sarah Keene and key partner Troy Pilkington frequently advise on Commerce Commission investigations and prosecutions, behavioural arrangements, merger clearances, Commerce Act litigation and other competition and consumer matters. Pilkington's track record includes several high-profile cartel and consumer law investigations and prosecutions, M&A transactions and joint ventures
Other key lawyers:
Troy Pilkington; Brad Aburn
“The firm has an outstanding team with deep market knowledge and strong insights into regulatory approach and strategy.’
‘Sarah Keene, Troy Pilkington and Craig Shrive are each a pleasure to work with. They are bright and dynamic and have developed an effective team around them. Each works very collaboratively with us and is constructive in giving feedback and helping to shape our legal and regulatory strategy and approach.’
‘Their knowledge of the relevant legal areas is exceptional and their ability to apply it to particular business situations is excellent. In turn, they are open to feedback and working with us to settle on appropriate solution. It is an effective two-way working relationship.’
Fonterra Cooperative Ltd
Spark New Zealand Ltd
Auckland International Airport Ltd
Woolworths Group Ltd
Lion Pty Ltd
Trade Me Ltd
Westpac Banking Corporation
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
- Advising New Zealand’s two largest newspaper / news publishers on their proposed merger, including on an application for NZCC authorisation, an appeal to the High Court, and an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
- Represented retail banks ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand and Westpac New Zealand as shareholders in New Zealand’s largest switching services provider, selling that platform to European payment system operator, Ingenico.
- Acting for New Zealand’s leading dairy company, Fonterra, in supporting the NZCC’s defence of a claim of judicial review in respect of its oversight of Fonterra’s milk price-setting regime.
- Providing competition law advice to intelliHUB Holdings Pty Ltd in respect of its acquisition of Metrix, the advanced metering business unit of Mercury NZ Limited, including on its confidential notification to the NZCC.
- Advising Lion Dairy (the third largest yoghurt supplier in New Zealand, including the Yoplait brand) on the successful application for NZCC clearance to allow Goodman Fielder (the second largest yoghurt supplier in New Zealand) to acquire the Lion Dairy yoghurt business in New Zealand.
Buddle Findlay's competition and anti-trust practice in frequently involved in high-profile merger clearance applications to the Commerce Commission, including some of the most complex in the NZCC's history. For example, its work for Verifone in opposing Ingenico’s acquisition of Paymark raised complex issues of vertical and conglomerate competition effects. The practice led by Tony Dellow in Wellington advises public sector entities on competition law and regulation of markets to promote competition, and advises the government on regulatory matters. Its work encompasses the banking, consumer goods, health, dairy, food, telecommunications and waste sectors. Susie Kilty in Wellington handles competition, fair trading, overseas investment consents and economic regulation, particularly in the infrastructure industries. Rising star senior associate Anna Parker joined the Auckland office from DLA Piper in Sydney.
Other key lawyers:
“Buddle Findlay has a depth of knowledge across a range of fields, including Commerce Act matters, which brings a unique application of knowledge.”
“They are very professional, intelligent and approachable. They provide strategic as well as legal advice.”
Toyota New Zealand
Payments New Zealand
Verifone/EFTPOS New Zealand
Ministry of Health and various District Health Boards
Infant Nutrition Council
Ministry for Primary Industries (Worked for them since they were founded in 2012 but worked with their predecessors (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Ministry of Fisheries) since 1980)
H.R.L. Morrison & Co (advisors to Infratil Limited)
- Acting for Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management in relation to their proposed acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand.
- Advising CRV Limited in relation to conduct by its competitor, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), which appears to breach section 36 of the Commerce Act 1986, which prohibits the abuse of market power.
- Advised the Infant Nutrition Council in relation to its successful application for authorisation from the Commerce Commission to extend marketing restrictions on infant formula (as it would have otherwise involved a restrictive trade practice under the Commerce Act).
- Acted for Verifone in its opposition to Ingenico Group SA’s application for clearance to acquire Paymark.
- Assisted Toyota in designing a new distribution model, as it moves from a wholesale distribution model to selling new vehicles directly to consumers, which involved ongoing advice on the application of the Commerce Act to operational matters.
DLA Piper New Zealand has a strong reputation in competition law, market regulation, investigations and cartel allegations, and merger clearances for both local companies and multinationals. Among its clients are New Zealand’s largest supermarket group Foodstuffs North Island, for which it handles all competition and anti-trust matters, and international businesses such as Allianz Worldwide Partners and Pfizer. Mark Williamson, who focuses on non-contentious matters, and litigation head Iain Thain lead the practice in Auckland. Williamson is a key adviser to Auckland Council and Foodstuffs. Thain and special counsel Alicia Murray handle competition matters as part of their broad dispute resolution practices.
Mark Williamson; Iain Thain
Other key lawyers:
Foodstuffs North Island
Geofabrics New Zealand
Champion Flour Milling
Allianz Worldwide Partners
Wiri Oil Services
- Advised Auckland Council on competition law compliance in relation to joint ventures and procurement processes in respect of the upcoming America’s Cup.
- Acting for NZ’s largest supermarket chain in proceedings to determine whether the covenant is unenforceable for being anti-competitive on the basis that it has the purpose or effect (or is likely to have the effect) of substantially lessening competition in a market.
Matthews Law is New Zealand's only boutique full-time competition law firm and for the last six years it has advised large local and regional companies, as well as multinationals. It has strong ties with international law firms including Allen & Overy LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and also works closely with domestic boutique corporate law firms to provide specialist competition law advice. It is active across all major industries but is particularly strong in the telecoms, technology, medical, construction and property sectors. Practice head Andrew Matthews, who has more than 25 years' experience, and special counsel Gus Stewart are recommended for merger control, cartels and investigations, regulatory and consumer protection matters. Solicitor Millie Goldwater, who acts for a range of government agencies, joined from Meredith Connell.
“Andy Matthews is highly experienced, thoughtful and practical. He has a good team around him. We have been impressed with their specialist work in the competition law area.”
“We have mainly dealt with Andy Matthews, assisted by Gus Stewart and Elsie Stone who provide strong support. Andy is highly experienced, thoughtful and practical.”
“The Matthews Law team has specialists in their field who cut to the chase and provide targeted competition law advice.”
“Andy Matthews and Gus Stewart are both excellent practitioners.”
“The firm has an in-depth knowledge of the market and the competition enforcement environment, as well as being on good professional terms with the regulator. It has a wealth of experience outside NZ which has a read across to an international approach in the domestic market.”
“Andy Matthews is the consummate professional, a real subject matter expert and a team player. He also has the sense to deploy humour at the right moment.”
Steel & Tube
Toyota NZ Dealer Council
Monsanto / Bayer
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Incorporated
Auckland Orthopaedics Limited
- Advised Fulton Hogan on the competition law aspects of its acquisition of the Stevenson Construction Materials business.
- Representing Steel & Tube in relation to a high profile and long-running Commerce Commission investigation and prosecution regarding representations made about Steel & Tube’s steel mesh products.
- Advising a major New Zealand port company in relation to Commerce Commission inquiries and investigations.
- Advised a business with significant trans-Tasman operations in relation to an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
- Advised the Toyota New Zealand Dealer Council on the competition law aspects of new agency arrangements with Toyota New Zealand.
The competition and antitrust group at Simpson Grierson in Auckland, which sits within the firm's litigation department, provides regulatory advice and business solutions to corporate clients across all aspects of competition law and market regulation. Its work includes anti-trust analysis of mergers and acquisitions, obtaining Commerce Commission clearances and authorisations for acquisitions, structuring joint ventures and other industry arrangements to ensure compliance with competition law, preparing access and supply arrangements, and assisting clients with pricing issues. The practice heads are Anne Callinan, who specialises in cartel litigation, and James Craig, who handles both both M&A and behavioural competition law work, which recently included assisting Cerebos/Gregg’s and its parent Suntory with obtaining clearance from the Commerce Commission for the sale of its NZ sauces business. Senior associate Nina Blomfield is also recommended.
Anne Callinan; James Craig
“The firm has a proactive and practical team that is easily accessible. They are experts in their field and we rely heavily on their advice. The team is easy to understand and provides advice that the business is able to understand.”
“Anne Callinan, Nina Blomfield and James Craig are all friendly and efficient and provide quality advice. They know when not to overdo the advice and are able to cut to the issue. They are highly skilled at the competition law speciality and I would recommend them.”
Livestock Improvement Corporation
OMV New Zealand limited
The a2 Milk Corporation
DB Breweries Limited
BP Oil New Zealand Limited
Cerebos-Greggs / Suntory
- Advising Harmoney on a test case to see how new financial legislation (FMCA), which enabled peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms to begin operating in New Zealand, intersects with existing consumer credit legislation.
- Assisting Cerebos/Gregg’s and its Japanese parent Suntory with obtaining clearance from the Commerce Commission in relation to the sale of its NZ sauces business to Kraft Heinz for A$290m.
- Advised OMV AG and its New Zealand business, OMV New Zealand Limited, which purchased the upstream business of the global petroleum giant Shell entities in New Zealand for USD578m.
- Acted for both Thales and Gemalto on the NZ competition aspects of their global merger to create a world leader in digital security.
- Acted for Danish cooperative DLF Seeds in its purchase of PGG Wrightson’s seed and grain business for NZ$421m.
Specialist litigation firm Wilson Harle in Auckland climbs the ranking thanks to its well-established practice in competition, cartel, fair trading and consumer law. The firm acts in significant anti-competitive conduct litigation, numerous high-profile Fair Trading prosecutions, and significant investigations and proceedings. Though its focus is primarily on contentious matters, the practice is also sought after for competition law advice on mergers, joint ventures and contracts, often receiving referrals from leading barristers, niche corporate firms and large national firms. Ian Denton is the key partner and he frequently handles investigations. Allison Ferguson is recommended for regulatory matters, fair trading and cartel investigations and proceedings. Felicity Monteiro's experience in competition and Fair Trading matters includes advising on competitors’ marketing.
Chris Browne; Allison Ferguson; Ian Denton; Felicity Monteiro
Wilson Parking New Zealand
Vodafone New Zealand Limited
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd
- Representing Wilson Parking in defending non-notified acquisition proceedings by Commerce Commission.
- Representing Vodafone in defending Fair Trading prosecution by Commerce Commission.
- Represented Vodafone in Fair Trading prosecution brought by the Commerce Commission in relation to inaccurate invoices.