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US: Antitrust paradox over Expedia-Orbitz deal

 |  February 17, 2015

Expedia’s deal to buy rival Orbitz makes it one of the most acquisitive online travel companies, but it wasn’t long ago that it was warning regulators against a deal in the industry reports the Wall Street Journal.

In 2010, the online travel firm criticized a merger that shook up the industry, arguing the US Justice Department should block Google’s $US700 million acquisition of flight-information software company ITA Travel.

“Google has tremendous power in the search market, and it gives Google the ability to steer users in directions that are best for Google,” Expedia counsel Thomas Barnett told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

Now Expedia is the web giant asking regulators for approval to seal a US $1.34 billion takeover of Orbitz. The deal would leave the US and Europe’s most familiar travel websites under the control of just two companies: Expedia and Priceline.

David Balto, a former policy director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said antitrust reviews would likely define online travel as narrowly as possible in the Orbitz deal. Expedia could find itself exposed to the same fears it raised in the Google case.

Full Content: The Wall Street Journal


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