The European Union's antitrust regulators has warned that Booking Holdings' planned acquisition of Sweden-based rival ETraveli may strengthen the US 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.
Booking Holdings runs brands such as Booking.com, Rentalcars, Priceline and Agoda.
EU Opens In-Depth Study Of Booking Bid For Sweden's Etraveli
The above news follows news from November 2022 that EU antitrust regulators were opening an in-depth investigation into online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc's €1.63 billion bid for Sweden-based eTraveli Group.
The European Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27-member European Union, said in November of last year that it had given itself until 31 March of this year to take a decision on the case, which it had been assessing since 10 October.