Almost as soon as Luxottica and Essilor announced their proposed 46 billion Euro merger, their competitors were highlighting serious concerns over the potential impact on the industry. It seemed the European Commission agreed, as in September of this year their EU antitrust regulators announced a full-scale investigation into the merger.
Despite their investigation however, neither the Italian eyewear giant nor the French lens manufacturer have offered any concessions whatsoever to allay antitrust fears, potentially leading to a much lengthier EU investigation.
Indeed, the Commission has already pushed back their own deadline to complete their review of the deal, moving it from the end of this year to late February 2018.
Usually, brands in this situation will offer concessions to investigators, which are recognised by the investigating body and taken into account. However, it seems neither company has offered anything of the sort, according to a filing on the European Commission website.
The concern for both the Commission and competing brands in the eyewear market is that the combination of Luxottica, who are the world’s biggest eyewear brand and owners of everything from Ray Ban to Oakley prescription sunglasses and Essilor, the world’s biggest lens manufacturer, would lead to the merged company having too much control over the market.
Both Luxottica and Essilor appear somewhat dismissive of this concern however, appearing confident that the deal with go through without any issue in public statements.
We will now have to wait until next year to learn if this is indeed the case, but one would assume their lack of willingness to compromise their merger in any way may have a negative impact on the EU judgement.