PARIS (Reuters) – France’s eyewear group Essilor <ESSI.PA> said on Tuesday it was hoping to make further progress on its tie-up with Italian peer Luxottica <LUX.MI>, a $54 billion transaction currently being investigated by the European Commission over competition concerns.
Essilor, the world’s biggest opthalmic lenses manufacturer, also confirmed its 2017 outlook after posting stronger third quarter revenues, broadly in line with expectations. It had cut its annual revenue growth target in July, citing snags in China and Brazil.
“Essilor intends to build on the momentum of the third quarter between now and the end of this year while also making major strides in its proposed combination with Luxottica,” Chief Executive Hubert Sagnieres said in a statement.
The company gave no other details.
Essilor and Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses, agreed in January on a 46 billion euro ($54.11 billion) merger to create a global eyewear powerhouse with annual revenue of more than 15 billion euros.
EU antitrust regulators opened a full-scale investigation related to the transaction in September, saying the deal could reduce competition in the ophthalmic lenses and eyewear market. Their conclusions are expected by the end of February next year.
The move came after Luxottica and Essilor declined to offer concessions in a preliminary review.
The merger has been approved by competition authorities in several countries including India, Japan and New Zealand but still needs clearance in North America and Europe.
Essilor said sales in the quarter ended September were up 2.5 percent on an organic basis to 1.75 billion euros ($2.1 billion). Analysts polled by Reuters had on average been expecting revenues of 1.77 billion euros.
Sales in North America were up 2.3 percent to 658 million euros despite the passage in September of hurricanes such as Irma which led to several shop closures in the United States.
Luxottica reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter sales on Tuesday after it was forced to close some 570 shops in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
($1 = 0.8507 euros)
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)