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StubHub to close offices in Asia Pacific and Latin America

By | Published on Friday 31 July 2020


StubHub is winding down its offices in the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions in a bid to cut costs as it continues to weather the COVID-19 storm. Some European teams will also face cutbacks according to emails seen by The Guardian.

The secondary ticketing companies have been facing all the same challenges as the primary ticketing firms as the COVID-19 shutdown of live entertainment has taken hold across the world. Though, if anything, the challenges have been more significant for the resale sites, because they often have to issue refunds for cancelled shows and then recoup that money from touts who need to recoup it from the primary seller.

Sites like StubHub have also always made a much bigger deal about their money back guarantees, because of the risks associated with buying tickets from touts. As a result, in those countries where consumer rights law doesn’t force an automatic cash refund on a cancelled show, if and when StubHub declines to issue such a refund the reputation damage is particularly acute. Plus, in North America, refusing cash refunds has led to litigation.

On top of all of that, there is the UK regulator caused delay to the merger of StubHub with its rival Viagogo. After Viagogo completed its deal to buy StubHub from its former owner eBay back in February, integration of the two firms should have begun, resulting in various cost savings. But with that deal yet to get regulator approval in the UK, the two companies are still operating autonomously.

Nevertheless, StubHub boss Sukhinder Singh Cassidy has already departed. Announcing she was standing down in May – because once it becomes a Viagogo subsidiary, StubHub won’t need a president – she insisted that the firm was now in a position to successfully navigate the COVID-19 shutdown.

Since then, of course, it’s become clear that shutdown is going to last for some time yet in many countries. And the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority launched a more in-depth investigation into the Viagogo/StubHub merger, meaning it will be at least six months until the deal is cleared, even if the investigation ultimately goes in the two companies’ favour.

According to the emails seen by The Guardian, StubHub has told staff that its offices in Asia Pacific and Latin America will now close. Explaining that swift action needed to be taken because of the challenges caused by COVID, the email stated: “This decision has not been made lightly, nor easily, and unfortunately it means that we have to bid farewell to our colleagues in Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea”.

StubHub’s operations in those regions will now be run out of its bases in Europe. Although even there, some staff are facing redundancy, while others will be furloughed, in particular at the company’s offices in Madrid.

Despite all that, a spokesperson for StubHub insisted that the company remained optimistic about the future, telling The Guardian: “While events will be among the last to return to normal following this pandemic, we’re confident in the industry’s ability to rebound. For now, we continue to support our customers and partners and look forward to a time when we are able to return to the joy of live events and the special connections that come with them”.