Simon Tong has stepped down as Fairfax New Zealand's managing director less than a week before the company is due to find out if its merger with NZME gets the green light.

It's understood chief operating officer Andrew Boyle is stepping into the role in the interim.

Tong joined Fairfax in 2013 and is taking up an executive role at ASB.

In a statement, ASB said Tong will lead ASB's Technology, Innovation and Payments division, "which is responsible for technology performance, payments and the development of innovative solutions, enhancements and transformational projects to ensure ASB remains one step ahead".


ASB chief executive Barbara Chapman said: "As a technologist with a career including more than 18 years of senior management roles in complex, technology-focused organisations, Simon brings a unique combination of skills, industry experience and knowledge to the role.

"He is a strong people leader with a proven track record of managing large and dynamic organisations and I know he will be a very good fit with the ASB culture."

Commenting on the role, Tong said he was "thrilled to be joining the ASB team during such an exciting period of change for the financial services industry".

"I believe that my background provides me with a unique opportunity to contribute to the success of ASB. As a customer, my family and I have been delighted with the experience the bank provides and I look forward to contributing to innovative and superior experiences for our customers."

The news comes ahead of next week's decision from the Commerce Commission on a proposal to merge New Zealand Herald owner NZME and Fairfax New Zealand.

In a joint letter, NZME chief executive Michael Boggs and Tong said the commission appeared to have acknowledged when rejecting the Sky Television and Vodafone merger that local content providers were facing increased competition from global players.

In rejecting the Sky/Vodafone merger, the commission had also appeared to acknowledge that consumers were accessing content anytime and anywhere on mobile devices.

"But it seems that the Commission simply could not be satisfied that no lessening of competition would arise, due to the 'must have' nature of the exclusive premium sport content controlled by Sky TV," Boggs and Tong said.

"Of course, that is the point at which the two media mergers diverge," they said.

"While SKY has periodic monopolies over premium sports content, such as an All Blacks' test, and rigorously protect those rights, NZME and Fairfax do not have similar rights over their primary source of content, which is news. Other news/information providers ... are all equally able to produce similar content, reporting on an All Blacks test, and equally can show a 'fair use' video clip of relevant portions of an All Blacks test to report the news," the two media bosses said.