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Google may agree to government supervision to acquire ITA

Google may soon agree to government supervision of future licensing of travel technology from ITA Software to get the go-ahead for the proposed acquisition, according to US reports.

ITA's technology is used widely by airlines and online travel sites to do flight bookings and is crucial to Google's plans for a service to handle airline-related questions, such as flight prices, times and availability and to display this information in search results.

Google announced plans to acquire the airline flight and ticket information company for $700m (£427m) in July 2010, but online travel companies including Microsoft and Expedia are opposed to the deal because of concerns that Google will prevent others using ITA's technology.

Google is discussing terms under which regulators would allow the acquisition which include agreeing to licence some of ITA's technology to internet companies, airlines and others for a set period of time, according to the Financial Times.

An agreement could be delayed further or the internet company could decide to abandon the deal altogether rather than make concessions, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.

If a consent decree is reached with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the ITA part of Google's business will be monitored continually by regulators. Although such agreements are rare, a similar arrangement was put in place recently when Comcast bought NBC and in 2002, when Microsoft agreed to licence some of its technology to rivals until 12 May 2011.


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