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Viagogo acquires StubHub for $4.1bn

Viagogo CEO Eric Baker is back in control of the company he co-founded in 2000, with eBay recouping nearly 13 times its initial investment in StubHub

By Jon Chapple on 25 Nov 2019

Eric Baker, founder of both Viagogo and StubHub

Eric Baker, founder of both Viagogo and StubHub


image © Stanford Graduate School of Business

In a landmark deal that brings together the world’s two largest secondary ticket sellers, Viagogo has announced its acquisition of StubHub for US$4.05 billion in cash.

The deal, announced at 2pm GMT today (25 November), sees Viagogo founder and CEO Eric Baker take control of a company he co-founded in 2000, and which was sold to ecommerce giant eBay for $310m seven years later. In recent months, many eBay shareholders have agitated for the company to divest itself of slow-performing StubHub, and eBay’s share price rose 6% on news of the sale.

“It has long been my wish to unite the two companies,” comments Baker. “I am so proud of how StubHub has grown over the years and excited about the possibilities for our shared futures.”

“Bringing StubHub and Viagogo together will allow us to drive further expansion and innovation, and create a more competitive offering for live event fans globally,” adds Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president of StubHub. “This provides a great opportunity to expand our business, pursue new partnerships and execute our strategy. We expect a seamless transition for all our employees, partners and customers, and we are excited for what the future holds.”

“I am so proud of how StubHub has grown over the years and excited about the possibilities for our shared futures”

The combined company will operate in 70 countries worldwide, creating a “global live experiences marketplace”, according to a StubHub statement.

Prior to the merger, StubHub and Viagogo – headquartered in the US and Switzerland, respectively – were the last remaining major ticket resale sites active in Europe, following the shutdown of Ticketmaster’s Seatwave and Get Me In! platforms last August (collectively often called the ‘big four’). Most ticket sellers now have price-capped ticket exchanges, such as Ticketmaster Exchange, See Tickets’ Fan-to-Fan, CTS Eventim’s FanSALE, and AXS and Ticketek’s solutions, both called Marketplace.

While StubHub has worked hard in recent years to shed its ‘ticket tout’ image, reaching to out to the industry and working with regulators while increasingly focusing on the primary market, Viagogo appeared to relish its role as ticket outlaw, snubbing parliamentary inquiries and weathering lawsuits from national regulators trying to enforce local consumer laws.

“We firmly believe in the StubHub business and we are excited about its future growth”

It also found itself unceremoniously banned from advertising on Google in July, leading to a 70% reduction in website traffic.

“We believe this transaction is a great outcome and maximises long-term value for eBay shareholders,” says Scott Schenkel, interim chief executive officer of eBay. “Over the past several months, eBay’s leadership team and board of directors have been engaged in a thorough review of our current strategies and portfolio, and we concluded that this was the best path forward for both eBay and StubHub.

“We firmly believe in the StubHub business and we are excited about its future growth potential with Viagogo as its owner.”

The sale is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020 (31 March), subject to regulatory approvals.

 


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