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EU opens in-depth study of Booking bid for Sweden's etraveli

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are opening an in-depth investigation into online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc's (BKNG.O) 1.63-billion-euro ($1.7 billion) bid for Sweden-based eTraveli Group.

The European Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27-member European Union, said on Wednesday that it had given itself until March 31 to take a decision on the case, which it has been assessing since Oct. 10.

Booking announced its proposed acquisition of eTraveli from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in November last year.

The Commission said its initial study indicated Booking had a dominant position in online travel agency services for accommodation and that competition might significantly reduce by combining eTraveli's activities in flights.

The EU executive said that Booking decided not to submit remedies during the initial investigation to address these concerns.

Etraveli offers search, booking and fulfilment services of flights through its consumer brands Gotogate and Mytrip and also operates airline integration company TripStack.

Britain's antitrust agency cleared the deal unconditionally in September.

($1 = 0.9613 euros)

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout)