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EssilorLuxottica eyes bigger future with GrandVision buyout

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Paris (AFP)

Franco-Italian eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica unveiled Wednesday a plan to buy retail optical chain GrandVision that has more than 7,000 stores in over 40 countries.

EssilorLuxottica said in a statement it would acquire a 76.72 percent stake in Dutch-based GrandVision, and would launch a mandatory public offer for the remaining shares.

The price of 28 euros per share in cash values GrandVision at 7.1 billion euros, and represents a 10 percent premium over its closing price Tuesday on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

The purchase "will create a truly global eyecare and eyewear company that is ideally positioned to capture changing consumer needs and behaviors," GrandVision CEO Stephan Borchert said.

French lens-manufacturer Essilor and Italy's Luxottica, which owns Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses, merged last year to create a new global giant in the sector with more than 15 billion euros ($17 billion) in annual sales.

After a power struggle nearly ripped the new company apart, the acquisition is the new company's first major move to develop.

While EssilorLuxottica does have retailers in its portfolio, GrandVision will expand its coverage in Europe.

GrandVision's management supports the offer, and the Dutch investment fund HAL has made a binding agreement to sell its 76.72 percent stake.

EssilorLuxottica also reported half-year results, with adjusted net profit rising 6.8 percent to 1.1 billion euros, on sales up 7.3 percent to 8.78 billion euros.

It confirmed it expects sales growth of 3.5-5.0 percent for the year.

"We now expect the second half of the year to deliver further growth and a strong improvement in profitability compared to last year, thanks to the launch of a new generation of products in the market that will allow us to improve the consumer experience," Executive Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio said.

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