Switzerland’s competition watchdog has blocked a merger between the country’s two biggest ticketing companies, Ticketcorner and Starticket.

The Federal Competition Commission (Weko) ruled the combined company would have constituted a monopoly by gaining an “increasingly dominant position” for ticket sales in Switzerland.

Ticketcorner, which is part-owned by CTS Eventim, and Starticket, a division of media conglomerate Tamedia, announced last year that they had reached an agreement over a merger, but a Weko investigation was announced in February.

“The proposed merger would allow the two companies to control the Swiss market for third-party sales of tickets and eliminate effective competition,” Weko said in a statement. “In addition, the companies’ links with two large media groups, Ringier and Tamedia, would have strengthened the position of the new company in the market (conglomerate effects).”

In a statement, Tamedia said it “regrets the decision” and did not rule out legal action.

“The rejection of the merger by the Competition Commission fails to recognise the dynamic development taking place in the ticketing market and weakens Swiss suppliers in international competition,” Tamedia said.

Competition ‘risk continues’

The decision was welcomed by Franz Wyss, chief executive of Ticketino, Switzerland’s third biggest ticket operator, who earlier this week said he expected the merger would be allowed.

However, he added that more must be done to open up the nation’s ticketing market, including the deregulation of ticketing for Hallenstadion, the 13,000-seat indoor stadium in Zurich.

“We welcome, of course, the decision of the Weko not to further strengthen the already dominant position of Ticketcorner,” Wyss said. “But competition in ticketing continues to be at risk.

“Different Weko requirements are still pending, such as the decision to 50 per cent clause of the Hallenstadion. For a functioning market all providers must have the right to sell tickets for Hallenstadion. For more than seven years, the competitors of Ticketcorner have been calling for a ban on this restrictive clause.

“A verdict is more than overdue, because only in this way can similar contracts with venues like the Samsung Hall come about. Only in this way do organisers really have the free choice of the ticket provider.”