The U.S. Justice Department is considering an antitrust lawsuit to stop Google Inc.'s $700-million acquisition of ITA Software Inc., according to people familiar with the situation.
Department officials haven't made a final decision about whether to sue to block the purchase by Google, owner of the world's most popular search engine, said the people, who requested anonymity because the agency discussions are confidential. Google announced in July its plans to acquire ITA, which provides online airline flight and ticket information software. The next month, government lawyers said they were extending their ITA investigation.
Google triggered preparation for the government's possible lawsuit last month by invoking a provision of federal law that forces the government to decide within 30 days whether to challenge the deal, the people said. In bringing the matter to a head, they said, Google prompted Justice Department lawyers to cancel Christmas holiday plans and put together a case.
"It could be Google did that because things are not moving forward," said Andrew Gavil, a law professor at Howard University in Washington. "As a business matter, it can be very difficult" to manage an acquisition if there is a probe.