EssilorLuxottica gains EU okay for $8.5 billion Dutch buy

March 23, 2021 10:37 AM EDT

FILE PHOTO: Sunglasses from Ray Ban are on display at a optician shop in Hanau near Frankfurt, Germany, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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(Corrects number of stores to be sold to 351 from 451 in paragraphs 1 and 4)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica secured EU antitrust approval on Tuesday for its 7.2 billion euro ($8.5 billion) acquisition of GrandVision after pledging to sell more than 300 stores in three countries to address competition concerns.

Formed in 2018 from the merger of French lens manufacturer Essilor and Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, EssilorLuxottica also makes eyewear for luxury brands such as Chanel, Prada and Versace.

The company is at loggerheads with Dutch retail chain GrandVision over the latter's management of the coronavirus crisis, with litigation currently before a Dutch court.

The European Commission said EssilorLuxottica pledged to sell a total of 351 stores in Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium to allay concerns that the deal may result in price hikes for frame retailers and reduce competition.

In Belgium, the GrandOptical chain of 35 stores will be sold without the brand name, while in Italy a total of 174 stores, which includes EssilorLuxottica's VistaSi chain and 72 GrandVision stores will be put on the block.

In the Netherlands, 142 stores from the EyeWish chain will be divested.

The EU competition enforcer said the asset sales would limit the retail footprint of the merged entity and reduce its incentive to restrict competitors' access to optical frames in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, while creating or boosting a rival.

($1 = 0.8422 euros)

(This story corrects number of stores to be sold to 351 from 451 in paragraphs 1 and 4)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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