Following its lengthy investigation into the £3.2bn merger of the UK’s two biggest secondary ticketing operators, Viagogo and StubHub, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given notice to accept the merger so long as Viagogo can find a buyer for StubHub International.
It has invited comments on the proposed draft undertakings by 5pm on 5 April.
As previously reported, the CMA said Viagogo must sell all of StubHub’s business outside North America due to competition concerns. It said the merging of Viagogo and eBay-owned StubHub, which collectively represent 90% of the UK’s ticket re-sale market, would potentially result in higher prices and reduced choice for consumers.
The decisions means StubHub international business – including in the UK – will need to be independently owned and run by a separate company, with no input from Viagogo. Until that point, Viagogo can not integrate the two businesses.
The criteria for a buyer is set out on p39 of the undertakings, which specify that the requirements include Viagogo finding a buyer that is independent of Viagogo, has the financial resources to run StubHub International as a viable competitor to Viagogo and has robust and credible plans to operate an uncapped secondary site.
It states that an approved purchaser should “be of a sufficient size and have the financial and management resources to cover the losses of the StubHub International Business while the uncapped secondary ticketing market is being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and to restructure it.”
Adam Webb of anti-ticket touting campaigner FanFair Alliance said the CMA’s “ technical update” on the merger confirmed the regulator will green light the acquisition when, and only when, StubHub’s business outside North America is carved out and sold off to an appropriate buyer.
“This this might prove easier said than done,” said Webb. “Since the CMA’s buyer criteria demands that anyone taking on StubHub’s loss-making international business will be forced to run the site as (a) an uncapped ticket resale platform and (b) in direct competition to Viagogo UK.”