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UPDATE 2-EssilorLuxottica eyes bigger global retail network with $8 bln deal for GrandVision

Matthias Blamont

for GrandVision@

* To buy a 76.72% stake in GrandVision at 28 euros per share

* Deal possibly capping 7 billion euros

* Public offer to be launched for remaining shares

* Transaction expected to close by mid 2021

* Shares in GrandVision up almost 5% (Adds details, background)

PARIS, July 31 (Reuters) - EssilorLuxottica, the world's largest eyewear maker, announced on Wednesday it is buying Dutch optical retailer GrandVision in a cash transaction worth up to 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) to expand its global retail network.

The takeover would mark a new milestone for EssilorLuxottica, which was formed last year through the merger of French lenses specialist Essilor, known for its Varilux lenses, and Italian spectacles maker Luxottica, which owns prestigious brands such as Ray-Ban, but has been beset by disagreements over who runs the merged group.

The group said it would acquire a 76.72% stake in GrandVision from Dutch investment company HAL NV at a price of 28 euros per share.

The price could be increased to 28.42 euros per share if the deal is not closed within a year, and the terms of the deal value the whole of GrandVision at up to 7.2 billion euros.

Shares in GrandVision closed at 25.36 euros on Tuesday and were up 4.8% in early trading. EssilorLuxottica shares were little changed.

"With GrandVision we will be able to develop our retail network, finally extended throughout the geographies, and fully enable our multichannel and digital platforms," said EssilorLuxottica executive chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio.

The transaction received support from GrandVision's management and supervisory boards, EssilorLuxottica said, adding it would launch a public offer for all the outstanding GrandVision shares after completing the deal.

GrandVision has more than 7,000 stores in more than 40 countries across Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America according to its website, and employs more than 37,000 staff.

Its stores attract more than 150 million customers each year, it says.

The deal is likely to come under the close scrutiny of antitrust authorities. The European Union approved last year the 48-billion-euro merger of Essilor and Luxottica after a long and careful examination.

EssilorLuxottica announced the deal as it reported a rise in second-quarter results and confirmed its 2019 financial targets.

1/8BREAKINGVIEWS-Del Vecchios grand M&A vision needs clearer focus nL8N24O2Q7 3/8 ($1 = 0.8965 euros) (Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Susan Fenton)