Spanish watchdog hits Booking with record fine of €490 million


Spanish competition watchdog CNMC plans to issue a record fine of €490 million to Dutch holiday rental website Booking following reports of false competition from two Spanish hotel owners’ organisations, Spanish and Dutch media reported on Friday.

The Spanish organisations disagreed with some of the conditions Booking imposed on their members, such as banning them from offering accommodation elsewhere at a lower price, the media reports said.

Booking, which was informed unofficially of the fine by CNMC, has said the complaints should fall under Europe’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), not Spanish law, so as to “avoid fragmentation at a national level”.

Failure to apply the law Europe-wide would land tech companies “in a nightmare situation”, a spokesman for the Amsterdam-based company told the Financieele Dagblad.

An earlier Dutch court decision which said staff had to be covered by the travel industry pension fund will cost the company another €255 million.

Booking has earmarked over $800 million to pay for legal disputes, its fourth quarterly figures, presented on Thursday, showed. Profits for the quarter fell by 82% but with a $4.8 turnover, the company scored better than analysts had predicted.

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