< PrevNext > Martin Coleman, U.K. Competition and Markets Authority Inquiry Group Chair The Deal Breaker By Amon Cohen / December 10, 2020 Share When global distribution system provider Sabre announced in 2018 its intention to buy Farelogix, a company whose technology airlines could use to bypass GDSs, it was safe to assume competition authorities would investigate. Less easy to foresee was that the deal would be blocked in 2020 not in the two companies' home country, the U.S., but by the Competition and Markets Authority of the United Kingdom. Farelogix does not even have any direct customers in the United Kingdom."The products and services that Sabre and Farelogix provide ultimately affect many passengers flying in and out of the U.K.," said Martin Coleman, who led the probe into the merger for the CMA, in his decision. "The two companies are helping drive technological change in this industry and we are concerned that the merger will see airlines and their UK passengers miss out on the benefits from continued innovation. ... In this case the evidence of harm is clear."Sabre accused the CMA of "acting outside the bound of its jurisdictional authority." To rub salt into the wound, the decision from across the Atlantic came almost simultaneously with legal success at home when a federal court rejected the U.S. Department of Justice's attempt to stop the merger.Miffed as Sabre and Farelogix might be with Coleman, some observers believed the former head of antitrust and competition at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright had inadvertently done both parties a favor. Although it had to pay Farelogix up to $25 million because the deal collapsed, consummation of the agreement would have seen Sabre handing over $360 million of cash at a time when coronavirus had devastated its income. As for Farelogix, just weeks later a new buyer swooped in: airline back-office technology company Accelya. The new suitor gave Farelogix the expanded resources it sought while perhaps allowing a better relationship with lead customers American Airlines and United Airlines, which had both opposed the Sabre tie-up. Meanwhile, Coleman's brief but momentous brush with travel technology is not yet played out. In spite of Farelogix disappearing into the sunset with Accelya, Sabre appealed against the CMA decision. The appeal was heard in November and a determination is imminent.