European Commission blocks Booking's acquisition of Etraveli

The European Commission is blocking Booking's acquisition of travel agency Etraveli, deputy Competition commissioner Didier Reynders announced on Monday. The deal would have given Booking too dominant a position in the online hotel booking market, Reynders said.

The Commission, which oversees the proper functioning of Europe's single market, indicated earlier this month that it would not approve the 1.63 billion euro deal.

Booking Holdings is the US parent company of, the hotel booking platform with a market share of more than 60 per cent in Europe. Swedish company ETraveli is one of the largest online travel agencies in the flight booking market. Its acquisition would have allowed Booking to tap into a new customer base of travellers.

Higher costs for consumers

The Commission found that the transaction would have brought so many additional customers to that it would have been impossible for other sites to compete.

The company already charges higher commissions than its competitors to hotels that want to provide bookings through its website. A tighter grip on the market could have led to even higher costs for the hotel industry and ultimately for consumers, Reynders said.

"Booking attempted to address some of these shortcomings. But ultimately it was not able to address our concerns in full," said Reynders, who has temporarily taken over the Competition portfolio from his colleague Margrethe Vestager.

"Our decision today means that European hotels and travellers will not be further limited in the options available to them to offer their services and book their trips," he said. "It also means that this important part of the travel industry will remain competitive, preserving the drive for competitive prices and innovation."



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