Will European regulators block Booking’s acquisition of Etraveli?

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Booking Holdings’ vision of a connected trip may hit a stumbling block later this month if European regulators veto its acquisition of ETraveli Group.

Booking first announced its acquisition of Sweden-based ETraveli for $1.6 billion in late 2021 but the deal hit the rails last year when the European Commission (EC) said it could fall within the scope of its merger regulations and opened an in depth investigation.

In June, the Commission said its preliminary view was that the proposed acquisition may allow Booking to “strengthen its position on the market for hotel online travel agencies (‘OTAs’) in the European Economic Area (‘EEA’).”

Among the Commission’s concerns are increasing barrier to entry for competing OTAs and increasing costs for hoteliers and potentially end consumers.

Regulators have given a provisional deadline of September 27 for a decision but a recent report in the Financial Times has said regulators are likely to veto the deal citing four sources close to the deal.

One interesting element unlikely to be in Booking’s favor is that by December, the OTA will probably hit the threshold to be called a gatekeeper under the European Digital Markets Act.

The OTA said in early July that it did not meet the criteria for the July submission deadline but that it expected the thresholds to be met by the end of the year.

In September 2022 the U.K.’s Competition and Market’s Authority cleared the deal.

PhocusWire reached out to Etraveli, but a spokesperson said they cannot comment at this time.

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