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by Michael J. Shapiro | August 01, 2012

 The U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading issued a Statement of Objections Tuesday, alleging that Expedia, Booking.com and the InterContinental Hotel Group infringed competition law with anti-competitive rate-fixing practices. According to the statement, Expedia and Booking.com signed separate agreements with the hotel company that would limit an online travel agent's ability to offer discounted room-only accommodation. The OFT asserts that such agreements could limit price competition between online travel agencies and increase barriers to entry for those agencies that wish to gain market share by offering discounts. The office launched the investigation in September 2010, following a complaint filed by a small travel agency. "The OFT's provisional view is that Booking.com, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels Group have infringed competition law," said OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell in a statement. "However, these are the OFT's provisional findings only. All parties will now have a full opportunity to respond to our Statement of Objections before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed."