EssiLux sues M&A target GrandVision to get information on COVID management

EssilorLuxottica (ESLX.PA) has filed a legal action to obtain information from its acquisition target GrandVision (GVNV.AS) about its management of the coronavirus crisis, the French-Italian maker of Ray-Ban said on Saturday. EssilorLuxottica announced a 7.2-billion-euro bid for GrandVision in July last year, aiming to control the Dutch eyewear group’s more than 7,000 outlets across the world. It filed the legal proceedings before a district court in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, after GrandVision did not respond to its requests for information on its handling of the pandemic, EssilorLuxottica said in a statement. “This is to assess the way GrandVision has managed the course of its business during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the extent to which GrandVision has breached its obligations under the support agreement,” EssilorLuxottica said, referring to the terms of the M&A deal. “Despite repeated requests, GrandVision has not provided this information on a voluntary basis, leaving EssilorLuxottica with no other option but to resort to legal proceedings,” it added, without elaborating. GrandVision said in a statement it “strongly disagrees” with EssilorLuxottica’s demands, adding it has “full confidence” that the claims would be rejected in court. Earlier this week EU antitrust authorities extended their investigation on the deal to Aug. 27. The coronavirus pandemic has caused setbacks to M&A transactions in recent months, in some cases triggering requests from prospective buyers to amend agreed terms. Sources have told Reuters that LVMH Chief Executive Bernard Arnault has been exploring ways to potentially pressure M&A target Tiffany (TIF.N) to lower the agreed price of $135 per share for their planned deal. And Dutch bank NIBC (NIBC.AS) earlier this week said it had agreed a proposed takeover by Blackstone (BX.N), despite the U.S. private equity firm lowering its bid by around a quarter in light of the pandemic. EssilorLuxottica, formed last year from the merger of French lens maker Essilor and Italian eyewear group Luxottica, also owns the Oakley and Persol brands and Varilux lenses.

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