In the annals of unfortunately-timed business deals, Viagogo’s decision to buy rival secondary ticketing platform StubHub for $4bn a few months before a global pandemic shut down the live music industry will surely rank highly.
While the acquisition closed in February, an actual merger of the two companies has been on hold while regulators scrutinise it – particularly the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Yesterday, it offered its latest view: a provisional finding that the merger will reduce competition.
“Viagogo and StubHub are close competitors in an already very concentrated market with no significant additional competitors. They are the only 2 companies of material size in the UK’s secondary ticketing market with a combined market share of more than 90%,” announced the CMA.
“The CMA is concerned that the merger could lead to increases in fees for customers, including fans, who resell or buy secondary tickets to live events. The CMA also found that the merger could result in a lower quality of service and reduced innovation in the sector.”
How to solve this? Requiring Viagogo to “sell all or part of StubHub” is on the cards, but the final ruling has yet to be made.