EU antitrust regulators warn ETraveli deal will reinforce Booking Holdings

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union’s antitrust regulators on Friday warned that Booking Holdings’ planned acquisition of Sweden-based rival ETraveli may strengthen the U.S. company’s position in the market for hotel online travel agencies, and push up costs for hotels.

“Competition is already limited in the hotel OTA (online travel agencies) market and Booking appears to be unconstrained by competing OTAs, hotels and end-customers,” the European Commission said in a statement.

The EU competition watchdog said the deal may increase Booking Holdings’ bargaining position towards hotels and divert demand from cheaper alternative sales channels, and ultimately push up costs for hotels and customers.

The European Commission is scheduled to decide on the deal by Aug. 30.

Booking announced the proposed acquisition of private equity firm CVC Capital Partners-owned Etraveli in November 2021.

Etraveli owns the brands Gotogate and Mytrip and also operates airline integration company TripStack.

Shares in Booking Holdings were up 0.5% by 1420 GMT.

Booking Holdings runs brands such as, Rentalcars, Priceline and Agoda.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee;Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Louise Heavens)