The future of the €7.2 billion ($8.5 billion) takeover of Dutch eyewear stores operator, GrandVision, by EssilorLuxottica is now uncertain due to GrandVision’s actions during the coronavirus crisis. During a court hearing in Rotterdam, EssilorLuxottica, the French-Italian maker of Ray-Ban, argued that GrandVision had violated agreements by suspending payments to store owners and suppliers and by seeking state aid without obtaining their approval. Jeroen Kortmann, the lawyer representing EssiLux, emphasized the significant shift in direction undertaken by GrandVision, a breach of their contractual obligations. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the measures implemented by GrandVision during the crisis and their potential impact on the proposed deal.

In contrast, GrandVision defended its actions and accused EssiLux of trying to find an excuse to back out of the deal. They claimed that they had promptly and consistently informed EssiLux about all the steps they took to support their stores amid the pandemic and argued that none of these actions deviated from the original course. Edward van Geuns, GrandVision’s lawyer, stated that despite providing information about their coronavirus-related measures, EssiLux had failed to respond for three months. Van Geuns further argued that EssiLux’s dual role as a competitor and a major supplier of GrandVision made it inappropriate to share information without a clear and urgent need. To ensure compliance with their obligations, GrandVision initiated an arbitration case against EssiLux last month.

The outcome of this case is of significant importance, as a failed acquisition would put an end to EssiLux’s ambitions of gaining control over GrandVision’s extensive global network comprising more than 7,000 outlets. The Rotterdam court is expected to deliver its verdict on the matter on August 24th.

Useful links:
1. EssilorLuxottica Official Website
2. GrandVision Official Website