UPDATE (as of December 4, 2019) Viagogo released the following statement to TicketNews regarding the matter:
“Viagogo expects the market regulator to look at this deal as they would with any deal of this size and we will be working with them collaboratively on that as required.”
The ticketing campaign group the FanFair Alliance submitted a formal complaint with the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this week following Viagogo’s proposed $4.05 billion acquisition of StubHub.
According to Billboard, the FanFair Alliance wrote to the CMA, calling for a “phase 1” enquiry into the proposed StubHub deal, noting that the acquisition would give Viagogo a monopoly on the secondary ticketing in the U.K. In a letter, FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb urged the CMA to investigate “the proposed merger and its potential implications for U.K. consumers and live event industry.” Following the closing of Ticketmaster’s resale sites GetMeIn and Seatwave in 2018, Viagogo and StubHub are now the only two major “for profit” secondary ticketing sites still operating in the U.K.
“This would, we believe, inevitably lead to even higher fees for consumers, and an even greater dominance of search and social media advertising – increasing the risk of consumers being led needlessly towards inflated tickets in the secondary market, and away from authorized primary ticket agents,” Webb wrote.
The highly-anticipated deal, which was announced on November 25 following months of speculation, is meant to give potential buyers “a wide choice of tickets, and sellers will have a wider network of buyers,” Viagogo CEO Eric Baker sam in a statement. StubHub president Sukhinder Cassidy said that bringing the two platforms together will help “dive further expansion and innovation, and create a more competitive offering for live event fans globally.” The sale is expected to close by the first quarter of 2020, should it clear regulatory hurdles and other closing conditions.
The FanFair Alliance has fought against online touting with Viagogo since its formation in 2016. Viagogo has also run into some issues with CMA in the past; earlier this year, the company ended a court action after agreeing to make numerous changes to its site to meet U.K. consumer law and visibly provide information to its customers. Additionally, its AdWords suspension ended in most markets after the company was deemed to be in compliance with numerous criteria which Google requires of ticket resale platforms.