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NZ Rivals Unite to Challenge Fairfax
Helen Westerman, The Age

Rival New Zealand media groups ACP Media and APN Media have joined forces to challenge Fairfax Media's stranglehold on New Zealand's online auction market.

APN Media has bought a 50 per cent share of the ACP Media-owned sellmefree.co.nz for about $A3 million in a deal that will allow the Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd-backed ACP Media access to the nzherald.co.nz, the country's most popular news website.

The move is seen as an attempt by the two media groups to break the dominance of New Zealand's incumbent auction website, trademe.co.nz. Fairfax Media (owner of The Age) bought trademe for $625 million in March 2006.

The new rival service will allow sellers to list items for sale for free with images and video, as well as using online messaging tools to contact prospective buyers.

ACP Media chief executive Heith Mackay-Cruise said the sellmefree site had more than 300,000 registered accounts.

But trademe chief executive and founder Sam Morgan said trademe's auction dominance was unlikely to be challenged by the move.

"Combined, they have less than 2 per cent. We have the other 98 per cent," he said.

"But it will be interesting to see what they do in terms of (launching) competing real-estate and jobs offerings."

ACP Media, which established sellmefree.co.nz in August 2005, has a shareholding through PBL with NZ's most popular jobsearch site, Seek.

While the figure paid by APN Media is small, the deal puts the media rivals together in a joint venture for the first time.