Viagogo told to sell StubHub’s international business for £3bn merger to pass

Viagogo will have to find a buyer for the international arm of StubHub if it wants to gain approval for its four billion US dollar (£3.2 billion) takeover of the company.

The Competition and Markets Authority said on Tuesday that it requires Viagogo to sell all of StubHub’s business outside of North America before giving approval to the deal.

It is an offer that the company itself has already made, in a bid to allay competition concerns.

In November it proposed the sale of StubHub except for its secondary ticketing arms in the US and Canada.

It came a month after the CMA warned that a sale of some part of the business might be needed, after concluding that the merger would substantially reduce competition.

Stuart McIntosh, chairman of the CMA inquiry group, said on Tuesday: “The CMA has focused on ensuring competition in this sector works best for UK consumers.

“After examining all the options, including unwinding the merger in full, the evidence shows that Viagogo selling StubHub’s international business will resolve our competition concerns, effectively and proportionately.

“Creating a fully independent StubHub international business will maintain competition in the UK and help ensure that the users of these ticketing platforms don’t face higher prices or poorer quality of service.”

London-based Viagogo, which was set up by a co-founder of US business StubHub, lets users buy and sell tickets to football matches, plays and music gigs on the second-hand market.

StubHub fulfils a very similar role and the two are the main providers in the UK, with no significant competitors, so merging them could reduce competition.

It could leave customers with bigger bills or worse service, the CMA said, as it decided to only allow the two to merge if StubHub’s international business is independently owned.

The deal was first announced in February last year, and has been probed by the CMA for several months.