LPA ‘pleased’ by UK’s decision to pause Viagogo x StubHub merger
Ticketing resale platform Viagogo never seems to be far from scrutiny, and now the company’s proposed merger with fellow reseller StubHub is under threat.
UK competition watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority (CAM) has pressed pause on the merger, and put a stop to any action that might “lead to the integration of the Stubhub business with the Viagogo business.”
Geneva-based Viagogo announced the purchase of its key rival for US$4.1 billion last November, but now both companies will be placed under heavy scrutiny.
Live industry executives in Australia and the UK expressed concerns about the news at the time.
The CMA is now investigating feats that Viagogo would have too much power over the ticket resale market.
Live Performance Australia has welcomed the decision.
“We’re pleased to see that UK competition authorities are going to carefully scrutinise this proposed merger,” LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson told TMN.
“Our concerns about Viagogo’s conduct in the Australian market are well known.”
Same Same, But Different
Viagogo and StubHub are now required to report fortnightly to the CMA to prove they are individual operations.
“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,” said Viagogo in a statement.
A spokesperson for StubHub also added that it expects the merger to take place.
“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.”
Richardson said LPA hopes that Australian regulators can take heed from the way the UK is handling the case.
“We hope Australian regulators such as the ACCC will be following the UK process closely to see what implications there are for the local market that may need to be addressed here,” she said.
Viagogo: A Controversial Timeline
April 2019: The Federal Court of Australia rules that Viagogo misled local consumers and breached Australian consumer law.
Viagogo responds to the ruling, telling TMN it was “disappointed” and that the ruling did not reflect “our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made.”
July 2019: Google bans Viagogo advertising overseas, and a rep for Google confirms the ban would also include Australia.
Viagogo issues a statement saying it was “extremely surprised to learn of Google’s concerns today.”
July 2019: Australia’s love biz responds to the ban, with Michael Chugg telling TMN it is “a great win for artists and fans worldwide,” while Michael Gudinski says he was “thrilled” by the news.
November 2019: Viagogo announces it will buy rival ticket reseller StubHub for US$4.1 billion.
The live biz in Australia and the UK expresses concern, with one exec telling TMN: “Both Viagogo and StubHub resell for over face value, and the less tech-savvy Australian fan will always be vulnerable through wanting desperately to see a show.”
December 2019: Google backflips on Viagogo ban, with tickets on the reseller returning to the top of search results.
A spokesperson for Google tells TMN that Viagogo has successfully appealed its suspension after making suitable changes to their account.
Days later hundreds of fans are turned away from Elton John shows for having invalid tickets, with Michael Chugg saying; “Google shouldn’t be taking their money; it’s disgusting.”