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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission clears Axa, Permira online travel agency joint venture

Brussels, 30 May 2011 - The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between France's Axa and equity firm Permira which will concentrate their proposed acquisition of Opodo as well as their respective existing online travel agency subsidiaries,GO Voyages and eDreams. The deal will create one of Europe's largest company in the online travel agency sector.

The Commission's examination focused on the online distribution of leisure flights, where the joint venture will be the strongest especially in the French and Italian markets, but concluded that there would remain sufficient competition. The Commission's investigation showed that online travel agencies (OTA) and airline websites compete with each other for the sale of leisure flights on the Internet. The joint venture will face competition from airlines such as Air France, Alitalia, Windjet, easyJet and Ryanair and from other OTAs like Expedia and Bravofly/Volagratis. On the basis of these findings, the Commission concluded that the transaction does not raise competition concerns.

AXA PE, a private equity firm that belongs to the AXA Group, currently controls GO Voyages. Permira, also a private equity firm, controls eDreams. Together they will acquire Opodo and will create a joint venture to which they will contribute Go Voyages and eDreams. Opodo is currently owned by Spanish travel technology provider Amadeus.

The deal was notified for clearance to the Commission on 19 April this year.

Background

Opodo, eDreams and GO Voyages are online travel agencies that distribute various travel services, with a clear focus on leisure flights. The activities of the three OTAs overlap in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and to a limited extent in Portugal.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission, in 1989, was given the power to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation). Its duty is to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA)1 or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

A non-confidential version of today's decision will be available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=2_M_6163

Contacts :

Amelia Torres (+32 2 295 46 29)

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)

1 :

The EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein


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