Kiwi watchdog eyes Hoyts buy

New Zealand’s big-business watchdog, the Commerce Commission, may block a deal giving Kiwi exhib giant Hoyts control of all but two screens in the capital.

The commission’s concerns about market dominance were raised by Hoyts’ plan to buy eight screens from rival exhib Everard.

The deal also would make Hoyts the sole exhib in two other metropolitan areas.

But Hoyts is confident the purchase does not contravene the Commerce Act, arguing that distribs, not exhibs, control the film business.

Everard, which is also a distrib, is pulling out of nationwide exhibition after being thwarted in attempts to build multiplexes. Everard exhib chief Mark Croft blames the economics and the reluctance of some distribs to guarantee supply. After the Hoyts sale, Everard will be left with just four screens in Auckland.

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