EXCLUSIVE- EssilorLuxottica considers suing GrandVision over 7 bln euro deal -source

June 24 (Reuters) - Spectacles maker EssilorLuxottica is considering suing its takeover target GrandVision after a court ruled that the Dutch eyewear retailer had violated the terms of their 7.2 billion euro ($8.6 billion) proposed acquisition agreement, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

EssilorLuxottica, the French-Italian maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses, announced the bid for GrandVision in July 2019, aiming to control the Dutch eyewear group’s more than 7,000 outlets across the world.

But the planned deal has since been at the centre of a legal battle between the two sides, with EssilorLuxottica arguing that decisions made by GrandVision during the COVID-19 pandemic could give grounds for ending its proposed takeover.

On Monday, an arbitration court ruled that GrandVision had breached obligations of the takeover agreement, which meant that EssiLux was no longer bound to the pact.

“The outcome of the arbitrage has confirmed what EssilorLuxottica has said all along: that the management of GrandVision has been engaged in a scheme that broke not just the spirit but also the material terms of the contract governing a 7 billion euros transaction,” said the source, who asked not to be named because the matter is confidential.

“The next step is for Essilux to prepare for legal action against GrandVision and its management, seeking damages consistent with the scale and importance of the transaction they have undermined,” the source told Reuters on Thursday, declining to quantify the damages that EssilorLuxottica may seek.

A spokesperson for EssilorLuxottica, formed in 2018 from the merger of French lens maker Essilor with Italian frames champion Luxottica, declined to comment on Thursday.

GrandVision was not immediately available for a comment out of office hours.

$1 = 0.8384 euros Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Silvia Aloisi and David Evans