Ray-Ban owner in talks to buy dutch eye-wear maker GrandVision

Bloomberg London | Updated on July 18, 2019 Published on July 18, 2019

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By adding GrandVision, the owner of Oakley and Ray-Ban would gain more than 7,000 stores in more than 40 countries

Eyewear-giant EssilorLuxottica SA, the owner of Ray-Ban, is in talks to take control of Dutch retailer GrandVision NV.

EssilorLuxottica is holding talks with GrandVisions controlling shareholder, HAL, to buy the firms approximately 77 per cent stake, HAL said in a statement.

No agreement has been reached and any deal would be subject to regulatory approval, the investor said.

Shares of Schiphol-based GrandVision jumped 8.8 per cent to close at 22.90 euros in Amsterdam Wednesday, giving the company a market value of 5.8 billion euros ($6.5 billion). EssilorLuxottica dropped 1.4 per cent in Paris.

By adding GrandVision, which sells prescription glasses, contact lenses and other eye-care products, the owner of Oakley and Ray-Ban would gain more than 7,000 stores in more than 40 countries.

GrandVision operates under retail brands including Brilleland and For Eyes. In addition to its well-known sun-glass labels, EssilorLuxottica owns store chains like LensCrafters and Pearle Vision.

HAL is majority-owned by the Dutch billionaire Van der Vorm family and traces its roots to the 1873 founding of the Holland America Line in Rotterdam. Its current incarnation dates to 1989 when the owners sold the cruise line to Carnival and started an investment company with the proceedings.

Management feud

EssilorLuxotticas interest in GrandVision comes only two months after the company defused a leadership dispute that weighed on its shares. The eye-care maker, the result of a merger of Frances Essilor and Italy’s Luxottica, said in May that it would seek a new chief executive officer -- an effort to find a compromise between Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio and Vice Chairman Hubert Sagnieres.

The dispute flared up after the companies sealed their $53 billion merger last year, with Del Vecchio saying he wanted to appoint his deputy as CEO and Sagnieres countering that the Italian was making false statements in an effort to seize control of the group.

The Dutch company’s shares had risen nine per cent over the past 12 months, in contrast to a 4.4 per cent decline for EssilorLuxottica, which has a market value of 51 billion euros.

Del Vecchio is the biggest shareholder in the eye-wear company with a 32 per cent stake. The billionaire founded Luxottica in 1961 in the Italian village of Agordo.

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Published on July 18, 2019
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