By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Booking Holdings has taken its fight against an imminent EU antitrust veto of its proposed 1.63 billion euro ($1.7 billion) purchase of Swedish peer ETraveli Group to national watchdogs, telling them not to endorse the EU regulator's decision.
The European Commission will announce its decision next week, underlining its concerns that the deal could expand Booking's ecosystem of travel services which include flights, accommodation, car rentals and attractions.
"The draft decision applies the wrong legal framework and is unlawful," Booking said in a briefing paper to national competition authorities dated Sept. 8 and seen by Reuters.
It said the EU enforcer was required by its own merger rules to prove that the deal was likely to limit its rivals' access to the hotel online travel agencies (OTA) segment but it did not do so in the charge sheet sent to the company in June.
It also questioned an EU veto of the deal when the regulator itself estimated the acquisition would only boost Booking's share in the OTA hotel market by 1-3%.
The company also slammed the Commission for rejecting its proposal to show multiple hotel options to customers who book flights on its site in a bid to address its concerns.
"For these reasons, we would respectfully urge you not to support the prohibition of the transaction at the upcoming meeting of the advisory Committee," Booking said in the briefing paper.
The Commission declined to comment.
Booking said its flight business would continue to grow despite the EU block after it recently extended its flight deal with ETraveli to 2028.
The company, brands of which include Booking.com, Rentalcars, Priceline and Agoda, announced its bid for private equity firm CVC Capital Partners-owned ETraveli in November 2021.
The Financial Times was the first to report on the document.
($1 = 0.9384 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)