Expedia, Travelport and Kayak have all woken to news this morning that they are interested bidders for ITA Software, the travel technology firm also being courted by Google.
According to the Wall Street Journal the three companies are lining up to move into a bidding war of sorts as and when the current purda put down when Google and ITA Software started talking earlier this year is lifted.
Negotiations between ITA and Google are said to have hit cold water over price and concerns over anti-trust scrutiny.
A deal was originally scheduled to complete by the end of April, but talks have continued for another two months.
The timing of the latest leak from "people familiar with the matter" - perhaps during a critical moment in negotiations - throws some interesting questions about the tactics some are using to muddy the waters around the deal.
Indeed, adding the names of three high profile players in the online travel agency (Expedia), metasearch (Kayak) and travel technology (Travelport) world into the mix either attempts to support the asking price (originally believed to be around $1 billion) or support the idea of the business being a hot acquisition target.
Another name kicking about is that of Travelport rival Amadeus.
Travelport, Kayak have returned calls this morning declining to comment. Expedia yet to respond. Google and ITA have continually refused to comment.
So the sticking points to this latest twist in the tale are numerous:
- Expedia says it is not worried about a deal between Google and ITA Software, so why bother buying?
- Kayak (a client of ITA) has common investors with ITA Software through General Catalyst and Sequoia and $1 billion really is a lot of money when it could conceivably switch to another supplier?
- Would a GDS such as Travelport buy ITA purely for its meta technology, given that it works with airlines on the GDS switch and could develop its own meta platform?
- Amadeus was also an original investor in ITA and pulled out. Would it to get back in? Additionally, the same arguments apply to Amadeus as Travelport on the technology element.
So, the attention turns back to Google...