August 22, 2014 / 2:45 PM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Luxottica shares fall as expected CEO exit stokes uncertainty

* Expected CEO exit to be discussed at next board meeting

* Board to meet in first few days of September - sources

* Current CFO to take helm together with chairman - source (Adds comments from source, analyst)

By Valentina Za

MILAN, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Shares in Italian luxury eyewear maker Luxottica fell on Friday as the expected exit of Chief Executive Andrea Guerra cast doubt over the company’s future direction, traders said.

Sources close to the matter said this week that Guerra was set to leave because of disagreements with its founder and Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio.

Luxottica shares have fallen 5 percent since talk of a Guerra departure emerged in the Italian press. They were down 1.2 percent at 1318 on Friday, against a 0.4 percent drop in Italy’s FTSE MIB stock index.

“The departure of Guerra creates uncertainty. The group does have a good management team but the boss counts, especially when it comes to strategy,” a senior Italian trader said.

During Guerra’s 10-year mandate, Luxottica’s sales more than doubled to 7.3 billion euros ($9.7 billion), partly due to acquisitions, including U.S. sports eyewear brand Oakley in 2007.

“This turn of events is going to weigh on the stock until it is resolved in a way that the market is happy with. Luxottica is one of Italy’s few real international players so people are concerned,” the trader said.

Luxottica has said Guerra’s possible departure would be discussed at the next board meeting, after confirming the CEO had “for some time been debating” with Del Vecchio over strategy and managerial structure.

Two sources close to the matter said on Friday that the meeting would take place at the beginning of September.

“It could be on the first or the second. Anyway in the first few days of next month,” one source said.

Luxottica had no comment.

The source said that once Guerra had left, General Manager and Chief Financial Officer Enrico Cavatorta would take the helm in tandem with Del Vecchio, whose executive powers would be strengthened.

“They’re also looking to bring in somebody from the outside. The person would join the top management team with a focus on markets,” the source said.

Del Vecchio, 79, has been chairman of Luxottica since he founded it in 1961 and owns 66.5 percent of the world’s largest eyewear maker by revenue.

“Enrico (Cavatorta) knows the company very well and ... a more direct involvement of Del Vecchio, one dares say, could be a bridge solution that aims to reassure everyone - both inside and outside the company,” said Luca Solca, head of Global Luxury Goods at Exane BNP Paribas.

Cavatorta, 53, joined Luxottica as CFO in 1999 from scooter maker Piaggio. He also became general manager in March 2011.

“Del Vecchio has full confidence in him,” the source said. (1 US dollar = 0.7546 euro) (Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Tom Pfeiffer)

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