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UK regulators investigate Viagogo-StubHub merger

The Competition and Markets Authority has Viagogo in its crosshairs once more, having opened an investigation into its acquisition of rival StubHub

By Jon Chapple on 13 Dec 2019

CMA: Viagogo proposed StubHub Europe sale to clear merger

image © Gov.UK

Following pressure from anti-ticket touting campaigners, British competition regulators have opened an investigation into the acquisition of StubHub by Viagogo.

The US$4 billion all-cash mega-acquisition, announced late last month, is opposed by anti-secondary ticketing and consumer groups, with FanFair Alliance recently having written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urge it investigates – warning the merger would “leave a single market-dominant platform” with no competition in the domestic ticket resale market.

The CMA today revealed it is doing just that, having opened a preliminary ‘phase-1’ investigation into whether the merger of Viagogo and StubHub “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services”.

Interested parties have until 10 January to submit any comment or evidence relating to the acquisition, which the CMA fears could be in breach of the 2002 Enterprise Act.

“A merger between Viagogo and StubHub would have profound and damaging impacts for UK audiences and music businesses”

“Having written to the CMA and urged them to investigate, we’re obviously pleased they’ve opened a phase-1 inquiry,” comments FanFair’s campaign manager, Adam Webb.

“Aside from the persistent controversies surrounding these platforms – both of which are almost wholly dependent upon large-scale commercial ticket resellers – a merger between Viagogo and StubHub would have profound and damaging impacts for UK audiences and music businesses.”

Feat, the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing, also welcomed news of the investigation, saying the union of StubHub and Viagogo would “create an effective monopoly of the UK secondary market, making the situation worse for fans already priced out by touts”:

A Viagogo spokesperson says: “It’s customary for regulators to review acquisitions of this size. We will work collaboratively with the CMA to address any of the enquiries.”

The CMA only recently suspended previous legal action against Viagogo, which it accused of having failed to comply with a court order instructing it to provide more information to ticket buyers.

 


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