Monday 10 February 2020 5:28 pm

Competition watchdog tells Viagogo and Stubhub to pause merger

The UK’s competition watchdog has told ticket resale websites Viagogo and Ebay’s Stubhub to pause any integration of the two businesses while it probes their $4.1bn (£3.2bn) merger.

In an enforcement order published today, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) banned the two firms from taking any action which might “lead to the integration of the Stubhub business with the Viagogo business”.

Read more: Watchdog probes Viagogo’s $4bn Stubhub buyout on competition grounds

The CMA said that Stubhub and Viagogo must report every two weeks starting from 21 February to prove that they are separate businesses.

Switzerland-based Viagogo is in the process of buying Stubhub in a tie-up announced in November.

Yet the CMA is investigating the merger over fears it would give Viagogo too much power in the ticket resale market. Viagogo has frequently been criticised over its business practices.

The watchdog today said it had reason to suspect that Viagogo and Stubhub were merging before the final ruling had been delivered.

It said any activities which would “impair the ability of the Stubhub business or the Viagogo business to compete independently” must cease.

Under its order, the CMA said the two firms must maintain the level of service they provide in the UK and continue to operate customer and supplier lists separately.

It also told the two firms not to integrate technology or transfer key staff, and to make sure all contracts are serviced by the company to which they were awarded.

Read more: Ebay to sell Stubhub to Viagogo for $4bn

Viagogo said: “The requirement to hold separate the two businesses of Viagogo and Stubhub is an expected part of the merger process and we fully acknowledge the importance of the CMA’s examination into the deal.”

Stubhub said: “As the CMA states in the order itself, we do not expect any impact to the planned close of the Stubhub and Viagogo transaction. We are on track as previously communicated to complete the sale by the end of the first quarter of 2020.”