The European Commission has set April 12, 2021 as the latest deadline for the end of an in-depth investigation into EssilorLuxottica’s proposed €7.2 billion takeover of GrandVision. The deadline has been postponed several times.
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 initially indicated June 22, 2020 as the deadline for a decision regarding the transaction.
In the meantime, EssilorLuxottica and GrandVision have entered a legal battle after the Franco-Italian manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses and frames accused the Dutch optical retailer of breaching its obligations under the so-called “Support Agreement” in managing its business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, in a court filing, EssilorLuxottica indicated that the European Commission had asked the companies to sell stores in Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands to obtain clearance for the deal. The assets included the Dutch retail chains Pearle and Eye Wish Opticiens.
The Commission’s website indicates that commitments were submitted by the parties on Feb. 8. According to the news agency Reuters, EssilorLuxottica has convinced the Commission to limit divestments to three countries, without providing further details. The Commission will now seek feedback from the groups’ competitors, clients and suppliers to decide whether to accept the remedies, ask for more concessions or block the deal, Reuters added.
GrandVision repeatedly said that it supports the objective of obtaining regulatory approval for the closure of the transaction within 12 to 24 months from the announcement date on July 31, 2019.