Viagogo offers to sell StubHub outside US and Canada after £3.2bn tie-up blocked

Viagogo
Viagogo (PA Media)
12:01pm, Tue 10 Nov 2020
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Ticket resale site Viagogo has put forward plans to sell off StubHub’s businesses in the UK and outside North America after Britain’s competition watchdog provisionally blocked the £3.2 billion tie-up.

Viagogo is proposing to sell the holding company that operates all its international primary and secondary ticketing businesses in an attempt to ease Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concerns.

It said the move would leave it with only the StubHub Inc businesses offering secondary ticketing businesses in the US and Canada.

It comes after the CMA warned last month that Viagogo may need to sell all or part of StubHub as it provisionally concluded the completed merger was anti-competitive.

The CMA found the deal could lead to higher fees for fans and lower quality services and could see a “substantial lessening of competition” in the sector.

It said the two firms were the only two main companies in the UK’s secondary ticketing market, with a combined market share of more than 90%.

In proposals put forward to the CMA on November 5, Viagogo said it would sell the StubHub businesses and entire customer base outside the US and Canada.

“The purchaser will therefore be provided with the customer and transaction data necessary to compete in secondary ticketing in the UK and beyond,” according to the proposals.

Viagogo also pledged that the retained business would be prevented from marketing directly to UK customers and will not carry out search engine marketing on google.co.uk.

It said the buyer of the business would have use of the StubHub UK brand for three years, with a one-year “blackout” where neither they nor Viagogo can use the StubHub brand in the UK.

The sale would also include the Ticketbis brand and websites, which “will provide the purchaser with an established brand outside of the UK with a long-standing domain history”, according to the plans.

But Viagogo assured that any buyer would not take on liabilities for StubHub’s cancelled events during the pandemic.

Viagogo completed its takeover of StubHub in February this year, with the CMA launching its so-called phase two inquiry in June after initial concerns were raised.

In reaching its provisional conclusion last month, the CMA said it was concerned the merger could lead to increased fees for customers, including fans, who resell or buy secondary tickets to live events.

The deal could also reduce innovation in the sector, according to the CMA.

The CMA said at the time that a full sale of StubHub would address all its concerns and a partial sale would have to involve “at least the assets and operations of either StubHub or Viagogo that cover the relevant market – the supply of uncapped secondary ticketing platform services for the resale of tickets to UK events”.

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