* CEO Guerra to leave group after 10 years - sources
* Board meeting called on Monday on CEO, management
* Team headed by current CFO seen replacing CEO
* Stronger chairman role seen as short-term guarantee
By Valentina Za and Sabina Suzzi
MILAN, Aug 29 Luxottica's 79-year-old
Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio is set to return to a more active
role at the Italian eyewear maker after the likely exit of its
chief executive, a move which could raise questions about its
management in the longer term.
The board of the maker of Ray-Ban and Persol sunglasses
meets on Monday and is expected to agree the departure of CEO
Andrea Guerra after a successful 10-year tenure following
disagreements over strategy with del Vecchio.
Guerra is set to be replaced by Chief Financial Officer
Enrico Cavatorta as part of an enlarged top management team that
will include a head of operations, picked internally, and a head
of markets, hired from the outside, two sources close to the
matter have told Reuters.
Del Vecchio, who had taken a back seat at the
family-controlled company after hiring Guerra in 2004, will
decide over strategic matters, the sources said, indicating a
decision-making structure that could reassure investors about
how any differences of opinion among the three top executives
would be resolved.
Luxottica declined comment.
Under Guerra, 49, sales at Luxottica more than doubled to
7.3 billion euros, making it the world's biggest eyewear group
and pushing its stock market value to more than 19 billion
Some analysts said his sudden exit was likely to have
little short-term impact as he leaves behind a strong management
team. Cavatorta, 53, knows Luxottica inside out and Del
Vecchio's oversight of the top triumvirate could ensure the
group keeps thriving.
"It's a more complex governance structure that can work well
provided that, among other things, somebody has the last say,"
said Guido Corbetta, a corporate strategy professor at Milan's
Analysts cited a possible parallel in Swiss luxury goods
group Richemont, which is being successfully managed by
two co-chief executives.
"The role of the chairman is a sufficient guarantee,"
Corbetta said. "The real issue, given Del Vecchio's age, is that
of his succession."
Del Vecchio founded Luxottica in 1961 and owns 61 percent of
the group which he turned into a global player by buying coveted
brands such as Ray-Ban. Guerra's arrival was a rare case of an
Italian patriarch picking an outsider to run a family company.
News last week that Guerra was set to step down initially
hurt Luxottica's shares, but they have since recovered. They
were trading up 1.4 percent at 40.61 euros by 1345, not far off
a record 43.30 euros set earlier this year.
While Del Vecchio may play a bigger role, the lack of a
clearly spelled-out succession plan needs addressing, a problem
similar to that of other successful Italian businesses such as
fashion house Giorgio Armani and Nutella-maker Ferrero.
"In the short term, we see little impact," Citi analysts
wrote in a note. "We expect a strong third-quarter and an even
But "unless the reported changes to management are
temporary, we don't think it would improve the current
(successful) structure and might make the transition even more
difficult when ... Mr. Del Vecchio does retire."
(1 US dollar = 0.7590 euro)
(Editing by Silvia Aloisi and David Holmes)