US: Eyewear mega deal could hurt US consumers?

The world’s biggest eyeglass frame maker is planning to merge with the largest lens maker in a tie-up US antitrust experts fear will be bad news for consumers,reports Reuters.

Essilor, a French company, has asked US regulators to approve its merger with Italy’s Luxottica, the world’s leading frame maker, to create a company that would produce everything from Ray-Bans to Giorgio Armani frames, and be the top US eyeglass retail outlet as well as a leading provider of vision insurance. According to Reuters the company would have more reach by far than any competitor in the US.

Opponents of the deal include not only smaller rivals, but also the US Democratic Party which noted that eyeglasses were increasingly difficult to afford. Smaller rivals worried about higher prices in their shops have met with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff to express concerns.

“I would be surprised if they (the FTC) sued to block it. They might put some conditions on it,” said Caroline Holland, a veteran of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

Last week EU antitrust regulators said they had suspended their review as the two firms failed to provide requested data.

“We plan to get approval between year end and the first quarter, between December, January or February, around those dates,” Essilor CEO Hubert Sagnières said on Monday during a visit to Hong Kong.

“Last week, the European antitrust commission suspended the investigation for a few days because of some ‘missing’ documents,” he said. “They got the documents last Friday so we hope today (Monday) they would reopen the case.”

Full Content: Reuters

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