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Friday, April 08, 2011
US Government Clears ITA Software Acquisition by Google

The U.S. Department of Justice today approved Google's $700 million acquisition of airline fare tracker ITA Software.

However, Department is imposing significant conditions on the deal.

The purchase will establish the Internet search giant as a key player in the online travel market. ITA gives Google control over the technology that powers the reservation systems of most major U.S. airlines and many popular online fare-comparison services, including Kayak, TripAdvisor and Hotwire.

Cambridge, Mass.-based company ITA Software specializes in organizing airline data. Google said that after the acquisition, ITA will continue with business as usual, providing services to its business partners. Google also formally committed to let ITA's customers extend their contracts into 2016.

In response to the Department's reqirements, Google company also agreed to let both current and new customers license ITA's QPX software on "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms" into 2016 - along with related commitments aimed at making ITA's technology available to other travel sites.

Google is moving to close this acquisition as soon as possible, and then the company will start the work of bringing their teams and products together.

"We're confident that by combining ITA's expertise with Google's technology we'll be able to develop exciting new flight search tools for all our users," Google's Senior Vice President of Commerce and Local Jeff Huberwrote on the company's blog.

The U.S. government will also monitor Google to ensure it does not engage in anticompetitive behavior. That could include manipulating its powerful Internet search engine to steer consumers to its own services - or bury links to rivals far down in its search results - if it uses ITA to enter the online travel business.

The company will be also subject to broad requirements to report to government officials on its online travel operations, including travel search and advertising. In addition, the government will establish a forum for complaints about Google's behavior.

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