The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Stella Travel Services Holdings Pty Ltd by Jetset Travelworld Limited.
The brands of Stella Travel Services include Harvey World Travel and Travelscene American Express, and Jetset Travelworld also operates Qantas Holidays and Qantas Business Travel.
On 21 July 2010 the ACCC published a Statement of Issues outlining certain competition issues which arose during the course of the ACCC's initial market inquiries. The Statement of Issues identified that the Jetset-Stella merger had the potential to raise competition concerns in the retail and wholesale supply of travel products and services.
After extensive further inquiries with retail travel agents, wholesalers, content providers (such as airlines and hotels) and industry associations, the ACCC concluded that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any of the relevant markets.
"The ACCC conducted an extensive review of this transaction to ensure that it would not adversely impact Australian travellers," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said today. "After looking very closely at the issues, the ACCC found that the merged Jetset-Stella entity and its member agents are likely to face continued and increasing competition from online travel agents, direct supply by airlines and hotels, and the largest travel retailer in Australia, Flight Centre.
"The Internet has dramatically affected the way competition works in the travel industry as more and more customers look online for the best deals," Mr Samuel said.
"As a result, not only are traditional bricks and mortar agents forced to compete harder on price and service to attract customers, but airlines, hotels and tour companies also have new ways of reaching those customers. In this context, the Jetset-Stella merger is unlikely to substantially lessen competition."
The ACCC also concluded that Qantas Airways Limited owning a lesser interest in a larger retail group, when compared to the current interest Qantas holds in Jetset, was unlikely to substantially lessen competition.
A Public Competition Assessment outlining the ACCC's reasons for its decision will be available on the ACCC's website, www.accc.gov.au, in due course (refer to Public Competition Assessments).
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