The UK element of the takeover of ticket resale website StubHub by its rival Viagogo has been provisionally blocked by the competition watchdog, throwing the future of the controversial $4bn tie-up into doubt.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Viagogo, which pressed ahead with the deal despite a warning from the watchdog, must now address its concerns, potentially by selling all or part of StubHub.
Stuart McIntosh, the chair of the CMA inquiry group, said: “The evidence we’ve seen so far consistently points in the same direction – that Viagogo and StubHub have a market share of more than 90% combined and compete closely with each other.
“We are therefore concerned that their merger could lead to secondary ticketing customers facing higher fees and lower quality services. We’re now inviting comments on our provisional findings and possible remedies.”
The takeover has already been described as the “worst deal in history” after it was completed shortly before the pandemic shut down the vast majority of live events around the world.
The CMA is understood to have received submissions from music industry groups concerned about the power the combined company would wield.
Both firms have drawn fire from musicians such as Ed Sheeran, as well as from MPs, for repeatedly misleading consumers and exploiting alliances with powerful ticket touts to profit from fans’ devotion to their idols.