EssilorLuxottica has initiated legal proceedings before a district court in Rotterdam to obtain information from GrandVision regarding the management of its business during the Covid-19 pandemic and the extent to which it has allegedly ”breached its obligations under the support agreement.”
The Franco-Italian eyewear company, which made a €7.2 billion bid for GrandVision last year, claims that despite repeated requests, GrandVision has not provided the information on a voluntary basis, leaving it with ”no other option but to resort to legal proceedings.”
GrandVision said that it had been informed of EssilorLuxottica’s move to obtain additional information regarding its actions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. It ”strongly disagrees” with the demands and has ”full confidence” that the claims will be be rejected in court.
The dispute could further complicate a transaction that the European Commission is investigating to assess whether EssilorLuxottica will use its strong market presence in lenses and eyewear to raise prices or degrade conditions of supply to retailers competing against GrandVision, which could lead to increased costs or a reduction in the choice of optical products for final consumers.
EssilorLuxottica and GrandVision previously indicated that that they plan to close the transaction within 12 to 24 months of its announcement date of July 31, 2019.
In the meantime, the European Commission has once again pushed back the deadline for completion of its in-depth anti-trust investigation, according to a filing on its website.
The deadline was postponed by a week, or five working days, to Aug. 27 from Aug. 20. It had previously been delayed by a week to Aug. 20 from Aug. 13.
The proposed deal, referred to as case M.9569, was notified to the Commission on Dec. 23, 2019 and the preliminary investigation ended on Feb. 6, 2020. When the Commission announced the opening of an in-depth investigation, also known as a Phase II review, it had indicated June 22 as the deadline to make a decision regarding the transaction, but then postponed the date for its verdict to July 6.