September 11, 2017 / 4:47 PM / 9 months ago

EU regulators have concerns about Luxottica, Essilor merger - source

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators have concerns over the proposed 46 billion-euro ($55 billion) merger deal between the world’s biggest eyewear company, Luxottica, and top lens maker Essilor, and will inform them later this week, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO - The Luxottica name is reflected in a pair of sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Rome February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

Italian group Luxottica, whose brands include Ray-Ban and Oakley, and French company Essilor unveiled their plan to create a global eyewear powerhouse nine months ago.

But a negative reaction from Essilor’s customers, which the company said in July had affected its first-half sales, has raised concerns among analysts that the two companies may be required to make substantial concessions to satisfy the competition regulators.

The global eyewear market is forecast to grow by between 2 percent and 4 percent annually on the back of expected strong demand for prescription spectacles and sunglasses due to an ageing global population and increasing awareness about eye care.

The companies sought European Commission approval for the deal on Aug. 22 and the EU competition regulator has since then been gathering the views of rivals and customers.

The Commission, which is scheduled to decide by Sept. 26 on the deal, declined to comment on Monday. No one at Luxottica or Essilor was immediately available for comment.

Luxottica and Essilor may offer concessions during the preliminary review to allay regulatory worries, or they could wait until the Commission opens a full-scale investigation lasting about four months before doing so.

($1=0.8345 euros)

FILE PHOTO: The Luxottica's headquarters is seen in downtown Milan, February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File photo

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee with additional reporting by Valentina Za in Milan and Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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