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NZ regulator seeks appeal right on Infratil bus bid

Friday 4th July 2008

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The Commerce Commission is seeking to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling that Infratil wasn't liable for breaching the Commerce Act over the attempted acquisition of Mana Coach Services.

The High Court in June 2006 found Infratil's New Zealand Bus unit had breached the law in seeking to buy the 74% of Mana Coach it didn't already own. Still, the court refused to impose liability on the parent company for its part in the transaction.

"The commission is seeking to clarify the law as to accessory liability under the Commerce Act," chairwoman Paula Rebstock said in a statement. "This is a significant issue for all parties involved in commercial transactions."

The High Court imposed penalties and costs amounting to NZ$1.1 million against New Zealand Bus, after finding the acquisition would have substantially reduced competition in the Wellington region for rights to supply subsidised public and school buses.

Infratil and New Zealand Bus appealed to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the level of fines though also deemed Infratil not liable, the statement said.

New Zealand Bus is the holding company for Wellington City Transport, Cityline (NZ) and Transportation Auckland Corp, which operate Stagecoach Auckland, Stagecoach Wellington and Cityline Hutt Valley.

By Jonathan Underhill

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