U.K. antitrust regulators must review whether to re-open a probe into InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, Expedia Inc. and Priceline Group Inc.’s Booking.com after a court overturned a planned settlement in the case.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal last week ordered the Competition and Markets Authority to reconsider an investigation into online hotel bookings after it blocked regulators’ decision to accept remedies from the companies. The court said officials failed to take account of price-comparison site Skyscanner Ltd.’s concerns that the commitments would harm competition in the industry.
The CMA said it would consider the “judgment carefully before deciding on its next steps,” according to a statement posted on its website. “In doing so, it expects to take into consideration market developments since the commitments were introduced, both in the U.K. and across the European Union.”
Agreements between the online travel agents and InterContinental, the owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels brands, may have prevented more online sales of hotel rooms, regulators said last year. The planned commitments would have allowed hotels to offer the same discounts given by online sites.
German, French and Italian regulators are also examining online hotel bookings. Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is investigating Expedia and Booking.com over best-price clauses between online reservations platforms and hotels. It earlier banned another company, Hotel Reservation Service Robert Ragge GmbH, from using such clauses with German hotels.
Expedia, Booking.com and InterContinental didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
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