Booking Holdings has raised its objections to a potential European Union antitrust veto of its proposed €1.63 billion purchase of Swedish peer, ETraveli Group, now lobbying national watchdogs not to endorse the decision.
Pressure is rising as the European Commission is set to announce its decision next week, citing concerns over the potential expansion of Booking’s services which include flights, accommodation, car rentals, and attractions.
Booking has submitted a briefing paper to national competition authorities dated September 8, to which it expressed its disagreement: “”The draft decision applies the wrong legal framework and is unlawful.”
The company further argued that the EU merger rules have required the regulator to prove that the deal would reduce access to the hotel online travel agencies (OTA) segment, which it did not include in the charge sheet sent to Booking in June.
Submitting its counter-argument, the company acknowledged the Commission’s own estimation of only a 1-3% increase in the OTA hotel market share as a consequence of the proposed acquisition, noting “”For these reasons, we would respectfully urge you not to support the prohibition of the transaction at the upcoming meeting of the advisory Committee.”
Despite the potential veto, Booking has since announced their decision to extend its flight deal with ETraveli to 2028, evidencing their commitment to progress in the flight services sector.
In November 2021 Booking announced its proposal for the purchase of ETraveli, under the ownership of private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
The news brings heightened interest to the outcome of next week’s announcement and the effect it will have on Booking Holdings, as well as the travel services sector as a whole.