The competition watchdog has warned that ticket resale site Viagogo’s deal to buy rival StubHub could leave customers with “higher prices and fewer options”.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it believes the £3.2 billion acquisition, which took place in February, “raises competition concerns” after completing a phase one investigation.
It said Viagogo now has five working days to address the CMA’s concerns in order to avoid an in-depth phase two investigation.
Viagogo and StubHub are the UK’s two largest secondary ticketing firms and hold more than 80% of the country’s market share, the CMA said.
We remain committed to our belief that the combination of the two companies is a good move for customers worldwide.Viagogo
The CMA said it believes the limited number of alternatives in the market raises concerns that “the merger would raise the prices for customers, including fans, who resell and buy secondary tickets”.
The regulator said it undertook extensive market testing and looked at evidence from third parties, including consumer groups, customers and competitors.
It said it also remains “mindful” of the heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the live events sector but anticipates that both companies will remain important competitors in the long term.
Andrea Gomes da Silva, CMA’s executive director for markets and mergers, said: “Viagogo is already the largest secondary ticketing company in the UK by some considerable margin and has purchased an established rival, with no other significant competitors in the market.
“We are therefore concerned that this transaction could lead to customers losing out through higher prices, less innovation and a lack of real choice.”
A Viagogo spokeswoman said: “As we have throughout this process, we will continue to work diligently with the CMA during their review of the transaction.
“We remain committed to our belief that the combination of the two companies is a good move for customers worldwide.”
In January, the CMA also warned StubHub it could be “breaking consumer law” and told the company to make changes to its site or risk court action.