Luxottica Merger with Essilor Could Hurt US Consumers, But Is Likely to Be Approved

The proposed merger between Italian eyewear giants Luxottica and French lens maker Essilor has received a significant amount of attention in recent months, with a European Commission anti-trust investigation currently underway.

The merger, which would result in a huge company making everything from Ray-Ban glasses to bespoke prescription lenses, would dominate the eyewear industry from design and manufacturing right through to retail and even vision insurance – and that has many competitors and commentators concerned, particularly in the US.

Those opposing the deal include the US Democratic Party, who voiced concerns around rising prices in the industry, noting that it ‘deserves careful scrutiny, and enforcement’. Similarly, smaller companies are understandably against the deal, and many of them have with FTC (Federal Trade Commission) staff to voice their concerns.

Antitrust enforcers in the US rarely take steps to stop these kind of mergers, as proving a direct correlation between them and directly rising prices is tricky – they have to prove definitively in a court of law that the deal with hurt US consumers.

However, many in the industry have noted that prices are likely to be raised through indirect means – especially smaller companies being unable to get the products they want, or for the price they need to, in order to maintain costs.

Despite these concerns, Reuters found that six out of seven antitrust experts said the deal would likely go through, although the FTC may look to put conditions on the merger.

The two companies in question released a joint statement addressing concerns, insisting the deal was ‘pro-competitive’ and that they were working with the FTC to get the deal approved.

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