Aug 292010
 

The Department of Justice is taking a harder look at
Google’s $700 million bid to
buy ITA Software, lodging a second request with the search engine for more
information about the deal.

Google last month agreed to buy the flight information
software specialist to build new flight search tools that will make it easier
for users to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and shuttle
users to a site to purchase tickets.

Google has had little to offer in this area to date
compared to Microsoft’s Bing, which uses ITA’s info for its travel Webpage. Kayak
and Orbitz also rely on ITA for information.

Kayak expressed concern hat Google could shut off their access to the ITA data, something the search engine pledged not
to do.

This concern, combined with Google’s increasingly acquisitive
nature, was enough to attract the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission to discuss who would scrutinize
the bid. The DOJ, which typically covers travel-related agreements, won out.

“While we think this acquisition will benefit
travelers as well as those seeking their business, we know that closer scrutiny
has been one consequence of Google’s success, and we said that we wouldnt be
surprised if there were a regulatory review before the deal closes,” wrote Andrew Silverman, a Google senior product manager, August 27.

“This week we received what’s called a “second
request,” which means that the U.S. Department of Justice is asking for
more information so that they can continue to review the deal.”

Second requests typically mean the agency is concerned about the impact a deal will have on an industry and could signal the DOJ’s intent to block Google’s bid.

Google and travel industry analysts have contended that the travel industry is plenty
competitive enough to allow it to buy ITA.

Google quoted noted travel guru Arthur Frommer, who said that “the existence of so many
competing airfare search engines convinces me that the field will remain
competitive even after Google enters it.”

Indeed, Expedia offers Best Fare Search, while WorldSpan
offers e-pricing search. Silverman said Google is confident the DOJ that online
travel will continue to be competitive if Google buys ITA.

 

 

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