SKY, Vodafone merger decision

The Commerce Commission's track record suggests it will approve the merger of SKY TV and Vodafone NZ today, it's been claimed.

The commission is due to rule on the merger Thursday morning. If it gets the go-ahead, rivals telcos Spark and 2degrees will have 36 hours to decide whether to challenge it in court.

"It is appropriate in the present case to make an order staying the effect of any clearance decision for a short period in order to enable the applicants to consider their options," High Court Justice Graham Lang said on Wednesday.

Devon Funds portfolio manager Nick Dravitzki told The AM Show it's likely to end up in court.

"I'd guess the Commerce Commission would probably say yes - the only reason I say that is that they have a track record of saying yes to most things, and they've said yes to things that are more anti-competitive than this."

He says there has been a lot of media spotlight on this merger, which probably has less impact on consumer choice than other deals - such as IAG's acquisition of insurance company AMI, despite already owning State and NZI.

The real winner he says will be Sky, which will be able to take advantage of Vodafone's better technology.

"SKY is clearly challenged at the moment -they are losing subscribers, their earnings are going backwards at quite a rapid rate.

"SKY is behind in technology, if you look at some of its offshore competitors."

The spanner in the works could be whether the two parties have resolved issues the commission brought up in October.

The concerns included the ownership of content, particularly live sports, which could make buying SKY on a standalone basis less attractive than buying it in a bundle with Vodafone's broadband and mobile services.