PARIS, France — EssilorLuxottica SA agreed to buy GrandVision NV in a deal that values the smaller Dutch eyecare retailer at as much as €7.3 billion ($8.1 billion) and brings the Ray-Ban sunglasses brand and Vision Express prescription centres under the same roof.
The Franco-Italian company agreed to pay €28 a share for investment firm HAL’s roughly 77 percent stake. HAL is controlled by the Dutch billionaire Van der Vorm family. Following the completion of the deal, EssilorLuxottica will be obliged to make an offer for the rest of GrandVision’s shares.
The price represents a 33 percent premium to GrandVision’s closing price on July 16, the day before Bloomberg reported that the companies were in talks. GrandVision shares have been traded in Amsterdam since its 2015 initial public offering, which valued the company at about €5 billion.
The deal was announced as EssilorLuxottica reported first-half earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. The company also said the offer price will increase to €28.42 a share if the acquisition doesn’t close within 12 months. Completion is expected in 12 to 24 months.
The deal adds more than 7,000 stores, operating under retail brands including Brilleland and For Eyes, in more than 40 countries to EssilorLuxottica chains like LensCrafters and Pearle Vision.
The Franco-Italian company said it has bridge financing of €8 billion for the deal, and later plans a €2 billion refinancing through debt and equity. EssilorLuxottica’s stable of luxury licenses including Armani and Prada allow the company to transform plastic sunglasses into a high-end staple. The company would expand its retail network with GrandVision, aiming to use those stores to help sell Essilor lens products.
The move comes only weeks after EssilorLuxottica defused a leadership dispute that weighed on its shares. The company, formed through the merger of France’s Essilor and Italy’s Luxottica, said in May that it would seek a new chief executive — an effort to find a compromise between Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio and Vice Chairman Hubert Sagnieres.
Their dispute flared up after the companies sealed their 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.
Del Vecchio is EssilorLuxottica’s biggest shareholder with a 32 percent stake. Born in 1935, he founded Luxottica in 1961 with a handful of workers and transformed his business from a small maker of eyeglass frames into a global giant through a series of acquisitions.
Citigroup advised EssilorLuxottica.
By Tommaso Ebhardt, Manuel Baigorri and Daniele Lepido, with assistance from Ruth David and Robert Williams; editors: Eric Pfanner, Thomas Mulier and John Bowker.