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Viagogo was willing to divest StubHub Europe

23 July 2020

Viagogo offered to divest itself of StubHub’s European business in a last minute bid to gain a green light from UK regulators over the controversial $4.05 billion acquisition of its secondary ticketing rival.

The news was revealed on 17 July, after the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) published a full text of its decision to refer the Viagogo-StubHub merger for a full Phase 2 investigation.

The CMA had previously confirmed that the investigation would proceed on 25 June, citing competition concerns and the danger that consumers would be at risk of higher ticket prices, less innovation and diminished choice.

Viagogo’s offer of a “divestment to an upfront buyer of StubHub’s European and certain other international legal entities” was rejected by the regulator as it “[did] not offer a clear-cut solution to competition concerns”.

The revelation provides greater clarity about the merger, with Viagogo attempting to argue that their business is in direct competition with both primary ticketing agents and capped consumer-only ticket resale platforms.

The CMA rejected these claims, citing Viagogo’s own internal documents that suggested StubHub was their only realistic UK competitor and that, collectively, the two websites currently control 80-90 per cent of the uncapped for-profit ticket resale market.

Some of the most vociferous critics of the merger appeared to be Viagogo’s main suppliers, with a “significant number” of commercial ticket resellers claiming that a merged entity would hold a monopoly over secondary ticketing in the UK, raising concerns of worse payment terms and higher fees, while increasing prices for consumers.

The Phase 2 Inquiry group will be chaired by Stuart McIntosh, a former executive board member and group director at Ofcom, who previously held senior positions at organisations including PwC and IBM.

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