In a deal that would create a behemoth in the growing secondary market for sports and entertainment event tickets, StubHub has been sold for more than $4 billion to Viagogo, a smaller but aggressive competitor with a strong presence in Europe.
The deal was announced on Monday by Viagogo and eBay, which bought StubHub in 2007 for $310 million, a price that raised eyebrows at the time. By some estimates, the secondary-market ticket business could soon be worth $15 billion.
StubHub, founded in 2000, virtually created the market for the secure and trusted online sale of secondhand tickets, even as it has faced regular criticism over the high prices that sometimes result for the most in-demand events. The company’s platform last year had more than 240 million visitors and sold $4.75 billion in tickets, according eBay’s annual report.
But the company has been increasingly challenged by newer players like Viagogo and SeatGeek, and by Ticketmaster, which has pushed aggressively into the secondary market in recent years. Viagogo — whose founder, Eric Baker, helped launch StubHub while a business school student — is particularly popular in Britain and Europe, where StubHub has a much lesser presence.
“We bring international coverage, and StubHub has got phenomenal coverage in the U.S.,” Mr. Baker said in an interview. “When you put the two together, you’re giving fans access to almost any ticket anywhere, in any language and in any currency.”
A sale of StubHub had been expected since early this year, when activist investors began pressuring eBay to shed assets. In September, eBay’s chief executive, Devin Wenig, resigned, citing differences with its board.
StubHub and Viagogo said little about their plans for the combined businesses. But in an interview, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, the president of StubHub, said that the StubHub brand would continue.
Viagogo will buy StubHub for $4.05 billion in cash, and the companies said they expected the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2020, “subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.”