NZME and Fairfax have officially applied to the Commerce Commission to merge their New Zealand operations.
The commission confirmed on Friday NZME's parent company APN wants to demerge NZME and list it as a separate company on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges, then have it acquire shares or assets from Fairfax Media.
Fairfax's share in the new venture would be less than 50 percent.
The overall ownership structure has not yet been determined.
The Commerce Commission will issue a statement of issues and call for submissions on the merger early in June.
It will then have to decide whether the merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in the news market, or if it will be of benefit or detriment to the public good.