Spanish competition watchdog launches inquiry into Booking.com

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MADRID -Spanish antitrust watchdog has launched an investigation into Dutch hotel booking site Booking.com into possible unfair competition practices affecting hotels and competing online travel agencies in the country.

The regulator, known as the CNMCsaid in a statement on Monday that the proceedings stemmed from two complaints filed by the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers (AEDH) and the Association of Hotel Companies of Madrid.

CNMC found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Booking.com may have breached Spanish antitrust laws as well as Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which prohibits companies from abusing a dominant position on the market, he said.

Booking.com said in a statement that it would cooperate with CNMCsurvey to answer any questions regarding its activities in Spain.

“What we really want is for these practices to stop,” AEDH President Manuel Vegas told Reuters. The Madrid Hotel Business Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The watchdog will investigate the case over the next 18 months, during which time both sides can present their case. If Booking.com is found to have breached Spanish antitrust law, it could face fines ranging from 100,000 euros ($97,350) to more than 10 million euros per violation.

The plaintiffs argued that the booking website had imposed unfair conditions on hotels located in Spain and implemented policies that could have exclusionary effects on other online travel agencies and sales channels in Spain. line.

Some of these alleged practices could constitute an abuse of the dominant position of Booking.com over competing brokerage services offered by various online agencies to hotels, CNMC said.

Booking.com may also have operated Spanish hotels that are financially dependent on the popular accommodation services website, he added.

The watchdog did not cite any specific examples of these alleged practices.

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