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German Regulator Says HRS Hotel Price Deals May Break Rules

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Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Germany’s antitrust regulator said Hotel Reservation Service Robert Ragge GmbH’s pricing agreements with hotels may harm competition.

The best-price clause in HRS’s agreements with hotels guarantees that the company would get the best hotel price, the highest room availability and the best cancellation policies for its complete Internet offering, the Federal Cartel Office said in an e-mailed statement today.

“The best-price clause takes away from competitors the possibility of gaining ground by offering better terms,” said Andreas Mundt, president of the Bonn-based Cartel Office. “It makes it more difficult for newcomers to enter the market.”

Today’s warning doesn’t mean the regulator has made a final decision on HRS and it will give the company the opportunity to respond, the Cartel Office said.

“We have good arguments that show that competition is not restricted,” HRS Chief Executive Officer Tobias Ragge said in an e-mailed statement. In this context, HRS will continue its dialogue with the Federal Cartel Office, the company said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariajose Vera in Munich at mvera1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net

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