European Commission Suspends Aug. 27 Deadline to Complete Review of EssilorLuxottica’s Proposed Acquisition of GrandVision

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NEW YORK—The European Commission regulators charged with reviewing the proposed acquisition of GrandVision (Euronext: GVNV) by EssilorLuxottica (ISIN: FR0000121667) moved last week to suspend its Aug. 27 deadline for completing its review of the transaction. The European Commission’s competition regulator body did not give details for the move. The deadline already had been pushed back three times in order to give regulators more time to review the transaction. Just a few days earlier, EssilorLuxottica announced that it had started legal proceedings in the Netherlands to obtain information from GrandVision about how it performed operationally during the coronavirus crisis, as VMAIL reported. In a July 18 statement acknowledging the legal filing in The Netherlands, EssilorLuxottica said, "This is to assess the way GrandVision has managed the course of its business during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the extent to which GrandVision has breached its obligations under the support agreement. Despite repeated requests, GrandVision has not provided this information on a voluntary basis, leaving EssilorLuxottica with no other option but to resort to legal proceedings."

In response, GrandVision said it “strongly disagreed with EssilorLuxottica's demands and has full confidence that these claims will be rejected in court.”

The Dutch retailer added, “GrandVision has also received notice from EssilorLuxottica claiming that GrandVision, in relation to the aforementioned COVID-19 actions, is in material breach of its obligations under the Support Agreement concluded in connection with the envisaged sale by HAL Optical Investments B.V. of its 76.72 percent ownership interest in GrandVision to EssilorLuxottica. GrandVision strongly disagrees with these claims and has responded accordingly.

GrandVision also noted that it continues to support EssilorLuxottica with the shared objective to obtain regulatory approval for the closure of the transaction.

In July 2019, EssilorLuxottica agreed to acquire the international retailer GrandVision for approximately €7.2 billion (or $8.34 billion). GrandVision operates For Eyes optical retail locations in the U.S. market.

The European Commission’s regulatory delay will permit more time for EssilorLuxottica to come up with concessions to address competition concerns, according to reports.

GrandVision declined to comment on the European Commission’s move, and EssilorLuxottica officials in France could not be reached for comment at VMAIL’s press time.