Online travel giant Expedia Inc. is even bigger as of this morning, completing its $1.6 billion acquisition of Orbitz just hours after the U.S. Justice Department announced that it wouldn’t challenge the deal.
In a statement on Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division concluded that Expedia’s acquisition of Orbitz “is not likely to substantially lessen competition or harm U.S. consumers.”
The deal leaves Expedia and Priceline as the two major U.S. online travel agencies. The Orbitz acquisition includes the CheapTickets, ebookers and HotelClub brands in addition to the flagship Orbitz.com and the business-to-business services Orbitz Partner Network and Orbitz for Business.
Regulators found that Orbitz represents “only a small source of bookings” for airlines, car rental companies and hotels, which lessened the competitive impact to Expedia and therefore didn’t justify trying to block the acquisition. In addition, the Justice Department found “no evidence in our investigation that the merger is likely to result in new charges being imposed directly on consumers for using Expedia or Orbitz.”
The Justice Department also cited the rapidly evolving nature of the online travel business. “In the past 18 months, for example, the industry has seen the introduction of TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking service and Google’s Hotel and Flight Finder with related booking functionality,” the Justice Department said.
Expedia has been on an acquisition spree lately. Travelocity joined the company in January. Expedia acquired Australia’s Wotif.com last year, took a majority stake in its joint venture with AirAsia in February and invested $270 million in Latin America’s Decolar.com in March.
“We are pleased to welcome Orbitz Worldwide to our family of leading travel brands,” said Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, in a statement announcing the milestone.
“Our mission is to revolutionize travel through the power of technology. Given Orbitz’s focus on transforming the way consumers around the world plan and book travel, we couldn’t be more aligned,” he said. “As we bring our talented teams and capabilities together, we will be well positioned to accelerate the pace of innovation to deliver even better customer experiences to Orbitz’s loyal customer base and to further enhance the marketing and distribution capabilities we offer to our global supply partners.”