On December 5, 2018, the DCA rejected CTS Eventim’s appeal of the FCO’s 2017 decision prohibiting CTS Eventim’s acquisition of Four Artists.[1]

The FCO had found that the acquisition of booking and concert agency Four Artist by CTS Eventim—a platform that connects concert organizers with ticketing offices, but also sells tickets and organizes concerts itself—would have strengthened CTS Eventim’s already dominant position in the German market for ticketing services.[2] Allowing CTS Eventim to market tickets for concerts organized by Four Artists exclusively via its booking platform would have diminished competing ticketing services’ opportunities to expand.

The decision marks one of the first instances in which a German court had to apply the new rules for the assessment of market power on multi-sided markets that only entered into force in June 2017. The DCA’s decision, inter alia, bases on the assumption that CTS Eventim already enjoys very strong network effects, which are—in the DCA’s view—symptomatic of multi-sided platforms: the more booking offices are connected to the platform, the more attractive the ticketing system becomes for concert organizers, and vice versa. In its appeal, CTS Eventim referred in particular to Four Artists’ de minimis market share (less than 1.5% of all concert tickets sold in Germany), arguing that such a minimal increment of its own market share would not have led to a significant impediment to effective competition. However, under the German merger control rules, a significant impediment to effective competition can always be assumed when a dominant position is strengthened further, and the DCA confirmed the FCO’s view that the actual increase in market power need not be significant at all. Instead, even a de minimis increase, such as in the case at hand, is sufficient to block a transaction. This particular interpretation of the German merger control laws differs significantly from the understanding of the EU Merger Control Regulation that typically requires a significant increase of market power to identify a significant impediment of effective competition.

[1]              Ticketvertrieb (VI-Kart 3/18 (V)), DCA decision of December 5, 2018. As of publication, the decision is not yet publicly available.

[2]              CTS Eventim/Four Artists (B6-35/17), FCO decision of November 23, 2017. A press release is available in English here.