Australia's competition regulator has given the all clear to the $703 million travel website acquisition of Wotif.com by US giant Expedia.
In a decision announced today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that Expedia acquiring Wotif in the Australian market would not lessen competition in the online accommodation market.
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"The ACCC noted the concerns raised by market participants that Wotif represented an important source of bookings for some accommodation providers and that its removal from the Australian market may result in them paying higher commission rates to online travel agents (OTAs)," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
"However, the ACCC found that there has been considerable change in the competitive dynamics of the online accommodation distribution market in recent years. This has included new entry by a number of competitors and business models, including Booking.com, which has grown quickly to become the largest OTA in Australia," Mr Sims said.
In addition, the ACCC found that metasearch sites like TripAdvisor and Google Hotels Finder provide consumers with an additional way to find hotels.
"Disruptive developments from smaller OTAs and from companies in related online sectors, such as the metasearch providers, can be expected to constrain Expedia in the future," said Sims.
The ACCC said it plans to detail its reasoning in a forthcoming Public Competition Assessment.
In a brief statement, Wotif CEO Scott Blume said he was "pleased with this decision."
The acquisition still requires approval from Wotif shareholders and the New Zealand Commerce Commission. Wotif said it expects to close the deal in the later part of this month.