Ticket resale website Viagogo's merger with rival StubHub could lead to higher prices for concert fans and other customers, the market regulator has warned.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it found concerns over the "loss of competition" if the proposed deal was to go ahead, owing to the popularity and dominance of the two websites.
Viagogo and StubHub are the UK's two largest secondary ticketing firms and hold more than 80% of the country's market share, the CMA said.Viagogo boss defends company ticket resales
After looking into evidence from third parties and the companies' internal documents, the CMA found that Viagogo and StubHub were "close competitors in an already very concentrated market with limited alternatives"
Its phase one investigation also found that prices for tickets sold on the websites could rise as a result of the merger, after consulting with consumer groups, customers and competitors.
Andrea Gomes da Silva, CMA's executive director for markets and mergers, said: "Viagogo is already the largest secondary ticketing company in the UK by some considerable margin and has purchased an established rival, with no other significant competitors in the market.
"We are therefore concerned that this transaction could lead to customers losing out through higher prices, less innovation and a lack of real choice."
The CMA also said it had so far not seen evidence that Viagogo or StubHub would be more adversely affected by the pause on live events due to the coronavirus crisis compared to other companies.
Viagogo now has five working days to resolve the issue with the regulator in order to avoid an in-depth phase two investigation into the merger.Viagogo boss: We're now a 'leader in consumer protection'
London-based Viagogo announced the £3.2bn deal in November to takeover StubHub, a subsidiary of eBay.
Viagogo said it will continue to work with the CMA during its review, adding that it believed the combination is a "good move for customers worldwide".
StubHub has previously been a subject of an investigation by the regulator and has been accused of using "misleading messages" on its ticketing platform.
The American company was forced into compliance once the CMA threatened it with court action.