The UK’s competition watchdog has ordered a stop to any integration between Viagogo and StubHub until it completes its investigation into the operators’ proposed merger.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has served an initial enforcement order to the two secondary ticketing companies over suspicions that they had already began to merge.

The CMA filed the notice, claiming it has “reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is or may be the case that arrangements are in progress or in contemplation which, if carried into effect, will result in [the two entities] ceasing to be distinct.”

The details of exactly how the pair have supposedly begun to combine is unclear, though the notice prevents actions such as management changes, sharing of customer lists, merging of brand identities, integration of IT systems and negotiating on each other’s behalf.

StubHub and Viagogo are now required to check in with the CMA every two weeks to prove they are still separate entities.

The CMA launched a phase 1 investigation into the $4.05bn merger in December and is looking into whether the deal will result in a “substantial lessening of competition within the market,” by looking at the provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002.

Image: Martin Fisch