Italy regulator probes Booking.com for alleged abuse of dominant position


Adds Booking.com spokesperson comment in paragraph 5

ROME, March 22 (Reuters) - Italy's competition watchdog said on Friday it has opened a probe into Booking.com BKNG.O to establish whether the travel website is abusing its dominant market position.

The watchdog, AGCM, said that the website's handling of hotels that are part of Booking.com's Preferred Partner Programme "seems likely to hinder effective competition in the market, at least nationwide, for online hotel brokerage and reservation services".

This strategy is "to the detriment of other online travel agents with negative effects on accommodation facilities and, ultimately, on consumers in terms of higher prices and less choice," the authority said in a statement.

It added that Italian tax police Guardia di Finanza had carried out searches at Booking.com's Italian offices.

"We are fully cooperating with the Guardia di Finanza and the Italian competition authority who visited our offices in Italy yesterday," a Booking.com spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti and Toby Sterling, editing by Gianluca Semeraro and Susan Fenton)

((Giulia.Segreti@tr.com; +39.06.80307714;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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