Government shutdown puts Google-ITA deal on fast track? (Update: Approved)

April 8, 2011, 4:29 PM UTC

The Google-ITA merger is now on a fast track approval process and we could see an announcement as early as today.

Update: The merger has been approved with significant stipulations including licensing of the software:

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that in order for Google Inc. to proceed with its proposed acquisition of ITA Software Inc., the department will require Google to develop and license travel software, to establish internal firewall procedures and to continue software research and development.  The department said that the proposed settlement will protect competition for airfare comparison and booking websites and ensure those websites using ITA’s software will be able to power their websites to compete against any airfare website Google may introduce.  The department said that the acquisition, as originally proposed, would have substantially lessened competition among providers of comparative flight search websites in the United States, resulting in reduced choice and less innovation for consumers.

The Washington Post notes that U.S. regulators are trying to hand down a decision before a possible government shutdown sidetracks negotiations.

Antitrust officials are moving quickly to resolve months of negotiations with the tech giant over concerns that the acquisition could hurt competition in the travel search business. A shutdown could throw the talks into disarray because many Justice employees would not be able to work.

The government is looking to implement “ongoing anti-trust monitoring” which would be a first for a tech company, according to the report.  Google (GOOGannounced its intentions to purchase ITA in July for $700 million.  Since then there has been much outcry from competitors in the airfare-booking space, including a consortium of companies under

Microsoft (GOOG) last month filed a formal complaint to the E.U. Commission on what it saw as Google’s wielding its power in an anti competitive manner.

There were reports in February of a deal being struck.

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