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EssilorLuxottica targets GrandVision takeover

EssilorLuxottica is in discussions to purchase a majority stake in GrandVision, the multi-national Dutch eyewear retailer with more than 7,000 stores worldwide.

The Franco-Italian conglomerate, which formed in October last year, confirmed it is communicating with GrandVision’s controlling shareholder HAL Holding – an investment firm – to purchase its 76.7% ownership interest.

“The purchase price per share indicatively discussed among the parties to date is euro 28.00 (AU$44.65) per share,” EssilorLuxottica stated in a press release on 17 July, with GrandVision’s current share price trading at euro 25.18 (AU$40.13).

“The terms of the potential transaction, including with respect to price, will be subject to continued evaluation and discussion during the coming weeks and further review by the parties’ boards of directors.”

While both parties stressed no agreement had been reached, the deal would value GrandVision at euro 7.1 billion (AU$11.3 b), with HAL’s holding potentially worth euro 5.5 billion (AU$8.7 b), Bloomberg reports.

An agreement between HAL and EssilorLuxottica would lead to a mandatory public offer for all shares in GrandVision, according to the Financial Times, which reported that the potential deal could signify an end to EssilorLuxottica’s well-documented governance issues.

If the deal is successful, EssilorLuxottica’s portfolio will be strengthened to add Grandvision’s 7,000-store network across 40 countries as well as its online client base and 37,000 employees.

GrandVision, which posted annual revenue of euro 3.7 billion (AU$5.9 b) in 2018, delivers optical services and prescription glasses, including frames and lenses, contact lenses and sunglasses through a portfolio of optical retail banners.

HAL’s entry into the optometric market dates back to 1996 with the acquisition of the Dutch and Belgian operations of Pearle Vision.

In 2005 Luxottica Group subsidiary Cole National Corporation sold its 21% stake in Pearle Europe to HAL for a cash purchase price of euro 144 million (AU$229 m). That year HAL also went on to purchase shares in GrandVision.

In 2011 Pearle Europe and GrandVision merged into a single entity to operate as GrandVision, becoming the second largest optical retail company in the world. At the time, the combined company had system wide sales of more than euro 2.5 billion (AU$4.9 b).

Prior to EssilorLuxottica completing the purchase of HAL’s GrandVision shareholding, the transaction will be subject to customary conditions precedent, including approval by regulatory authorities in various jurisdictions. “No agreement has yet been reached and no assurance can be provided that these discussions will lead to such an agreement,” HAL stated in a press release.