30 Nov 2021

NZME to buy specialist news website BusinessDesk

10:22 am on 30 November 2021

The media company NZME has entered into an agreement to purchase the specialist news website BusinessDesk.

The Commerce Commission has declined a merger which would have created New Zealand’s biggest news media company
Fairfax Media NZ, Stuff.co.nz, 
NZME, NZ Herald.

File image. Photo: RNZ / Brad White

NZME will pay $3.5 million in cash for the business, with the possibility of an additional $1.5m which is subject to certain conditions.

BusinessDesk launched its subscriptions news business in early 2020 following investment from Milford Asset Management co-founder Brian Gaynor and has recorded substantial growth since then, with over 10,000 subscribers.

The company originally provided news on a wholesale basis, which was sold to mainstream news companies.

"NZME's acquisition of BusinessDesk will help supercharge their growth and realise the full potential of the opportunity to support New Zealand's business community," NZME chief executive Michael Boggs said.

"NZME will be able to provide both BusinessDesk and NZ Herald Premium subscribers with incredibly comprehensive and trusted business news to its consumer and business customer."

The sale is conditional on no material change to occurring to Business Desk's operations, the transfer of employees and contractors to operate the business, and approval from both shareholders and the Commerce Commission.

BusinessDesk editor and chief executive Patrick Smellie said Covid-19 had created an appetite for high-quality news and analysis aimed at business owners, investors and professional service providers.

"By combining with NZME's strong digital publishing experience, subscription growth expertise and international partnerships, along with the sales, marketing, and management strength that it can bring to bear, we are creating the potential to supercharge BusinessDesk's growth in ways that we could not otherwise achieve," he said.

If the deal is finalised, it will result in 35 business journalists being employed across BusinessDesk and the Herald's business team.

BusinessDesk will maintain its brand and would continue to operate as a premium subscription service.