The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) imposed a £20,000 penalty on US travel technology firm Sabre Holdings at the end of last week.
The CMA issued the penalty notice for Sabre’s “failure to comply” with requirements to submit documents relating to its acquisition of Farelogix, which the CMA referred for investigation at the start of September.
The US Justice Department blocked Sabre’s $360-million acquisition of Farelogix in August by filing an antitrust lawsuit.
Sabre announced the acquisition of Farelogix, a leader in developing new distribution capability (NDC) technology for airline retailing through third-party agents, last November.
Sean Menke, Sabre president and chief executive, has insisted: “The [Farelogix] transaction will be completed.”
Sabre has said the DoJ’s allegations “lack a basis in reality and reflect a fundamental misunderstanding”.
Court papers filed by the DoJ accuse Sabre of seeking “to eliminate” a competitor by acquiring it”.
The CMA said: “Sabre failed to produce certain responsive materials” in relation to two notices issued by the authority.
It noted Sabre then produced a large volume of documents “that had previously been either withheld completely from the CMA or provided to the CMA in a more redacted form.
“These documents had originally been designated as privileged but transpired, by Sabre’s own admission, not to contain any legally privileged information.
“They were ultimately produced to the CMA around two months after the required statutory deadlines.
“A total of 188 unique documents were provided late. This . . . had an adverse impact on the conduct of the inquiry.
“The CMA does not dispute Sabre’s submission that its failure was not intentional . . . The failure was, however, significant.
“A substantial number of documents were provided late . . . and at a relatively advanced stage of the inquiry.”
The CMA has said the proposed acquisition “raises significant competition concerns”.
It noted, “the considerable focus that Sabre places on Farelogix in its internal documents, viewing the company as a significant competitor” and said: “The merger raises significant competition concerns in the supply of services that facilitate the indirect distribution of airline content.”
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