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EU blocks Booking takeover of Swedish online travel rival

September 25, 2023

The European Commission said it prevented the €1.63 ($1.8 billion) deal in order to protect consumers. Booking owns Booking.com, Kayak and other websites, while eTraveli's offerings include Gotogate and MyTrip.

A smartphone showing the Booking.com app
Booking.com is headquartered in the Netherlands but it is a subsidiary of US-based Booking HoldingsImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

The European Commission blocked US travel giant Booking from acquiring its Swedish rival eTraveli on Monday.

Booking commands a 60% market share for online travel agencies in Europe, the Commission said. Meanwhile, eTraveli operates several websites to compare airfares like Gotogate and MyTrip.

"Booking's acquisition of eTraveli would strengthen Booking's dominant position in the online travel agencies market and likely lead to higher costs for hotels and, possibly, consumers," EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said.

Deal struck down to protect travelers

The EU said it vetoed the €1.63 ($1.8 billion) deal to protect consumers and ensure there is competition in the market.

It was concerned that Booking would become the main online travel agency for flights, in addition to its already-dominant position in the hotel market.

"Our decision to block the merger means that European hotels and travelers will not be further limited in the options available to offer their services and book their trips," Reynders said.

Didier Reynders speaking at a press conference
European Commissioner for Justice said such vetoes are rareImage: Dursun Aydemir/AA/picture alliance

Booking.com is headquartered in Amsterdam but it is a subsidiary of Booking Holdings, which is based in the US. The company's other travel websites include Kayak, Priceline and Agoda.

"Bans are rare, and today's decision is in fact the first merger to be blocked this year," Reynders added.

zc/fb (dpa, AP, AFP)