Orbitz, Expedia Deal Facing Further Review by Justice Department

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) —

Orbitz Worldwide and Expedia have been asked by the Justice Department for more information about their announced $1.3 billion acquisition, the companies said late Wednesday.

The all-cash deal, announced in February, for $12 per share would mark a major development in the ongoing consolidation of the online travel industry, with Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia, the No. 1 player, buying Chicago-based Orbitz, which was No. 3 in market share but had struggled to gain ground.

The deal must receive antitrust approval from the Justice Department.

“Issuance of the second request is a standard phase of the regulatory process,” the companies said in a joint news release. “Expedia and Orbitz intend to respond to the second request and to cooperate fully with the DOJ. We believe that this transaction will benefit competition and consumers and are working to help the DOJ complete its review before the end of the year.”

Besides Orbitz.com, Orbitz owns CheapTickets, HotelClub and e-bookers. Expedia owns Hotels.com and Hotwire, among others.

The only other big online travel-booking company is Priceline Group, which owns such sites as Priceline, Booking.com, Kayak and OpenTable.

On the day the deal was announced, Expedia Chief Financial Officer Mark Okerstrom said that the $1.3 trillion global online travel business is “highly fragmented” and that they were confident in gaining regulatory approval despite Expedia’s recent acquisition of Travelocity and planned purchase of Orbitz.

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