ITA Becomes Hot Ticket

Eager to snap up a company that makes some much-used travel-search technology–and keep it out of Google Inc.’s (GOOG) hands–several potential buyers are circling ITA Software Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

ITA, whose technology powers a huge chunk of all online travel queries in the U.S., has been negotiating exclusively on a potential deal with Google, which doesn’t have its own standalone travel search engine, these people said.

But other potential bidders, including Expedia Inc., Kayak.com and Travelport, have expressed interest as well. Some of them have submitted unsolicited offers of cash and stock for closely held ITA, but haven’t been given access to the company’s financial information on the grounds that ITA is in exclusive negotiations with another buyer, according to these people.

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