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Bundeskartellamt examines HRS best price clause

Date of issue: 10.02.2012

The Bundeskartellamt has issued a statement of objections to HRS-Hotel Reservation Service Robert Ragge GmbH, Cologne (HRS) on account of, inter alia, a violation of §§ 1 and 20 of the Act against Restraints of Competition (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen, GWB).

HRS has agreed a most favoured treatment clause with its hotel partners which guarantees that, of all online booking offers, HRS is always granted the best room price, highest room availability and most favourable booking and cancellation conditions. As of March this year, HRS intends to tighten the most favoured treatment clause and extend it to bookings at hotel receptions. In the past, HRS repeatedly blocked hotels from its online booking services which had not adhered to the most favoured treatment clause.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, stated: "HRS is by far the leading hotel reservation portal in Germany. The best price clause prevents other competitors from gaining ground in the market by offering better conditions. New competitors are hindered from entering the market. Therefore, these clauses are a threat to competition."

The Bundeskartellamt's statement of objections covers the most favoured treatment clause applied by HRS. It does not apply to the intended increase in commissions which HRS has recently announced and which has been criticised by many hotel managers.

The statement of objections does not constitute a final decision. HRS now has the opportunity to comment on the allegations.

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