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CMA forces Viagogo to sell StubHub business outside of North America

By | Published on Tuesday 2 February 2021


The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority has announced that Viagogo must sell all but StubHub’s North American business in order to get approval for the year-old acquisition of its main rival.

Viagogo announced that it was buying StubHub from eBay in 2019, completing the deal in February last year. By that time the CMA was already investigating the transaction. A combined Viagogo/StubHub would totally dominate the for-profit ticket resale business in the UK and elsewhere.

Although Viagogo disputes the regulator’s competition concerns, arguing that it also competes with primary ticketing sites and face-value resale platforms, the often controversial secondary ticketing company nevertheless suggested various remedies to allay the CMA’s concerns.

Initially it proposed selling off the StubHub business in Europe, before extending that proposal in November to all of StubHub’s operations outside of North America. Although a significant concession on Viagogo’s part, the $4 billion purchase of StubHub was mainly about securing a dominant position in the North American market where Viagogo has always been a small player.

In a statement this morning, the CMA said that its investigation into the Viagogo/StubHub merger had concluded that the combination of the two companies would “lead to a substantial reduction in competition in the secondary ticketing market in the UK. This could lead to customers who use secondary ticketing platforms facing higher fees or poorer service in future. To address this concern, the CMA is requiring Viagogo to sell StubHub’s business outside North America”.

“This will mean that the StubHub international business – including in the UK – will be independently owned and run by a separate company, with no input from Viagogo”, it added. “The CMA will determine key conditions of the sale, such as the right of the purchaser to use the StubHub brand for the next ten years. The CMA will also need to approve the purchaser of the business before any sale”.

Commenting on the decision, Stuart McIntosh, Chair of the CMA inquiry group, said: “The CMA has focused on ensuring competition in this sector works best for UK consumers. After examining all the options, including unwinding the merger in full, the evidence shows that Viagogo selling StubHub’s international business will resolve our competition concerns, effectively and proportionately”.

“Creating a fully independent StubHub international business will maintain competition in the UK and help ensure that the users of these ticketing platforms don’t face higher prices or poorer quality of service”, he added.