EssilorLuxottica shakes up management after power struggle

FILE PHOTO: Sunglasses from Ray Ban are on display at a optician shop in Hanau near Frankfurt, Germany, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

PARIS (Reuters) - Rayban maker EssilorLuxottica said on Thursday it has rejigged an executive power sharing arrangement put in place when the company was created by a merger in 2018, promoting two internal managers to the top executive roles.

The company, formed by a 46 billion euro ($56 billion) union of France’s Essilor and Italy’s Luxottica, had given itself until the end of 2020 to find a new CEO - a compromise candidate to appease both sides.

The firm had even hired headhunters to find external candidates. It declined to comment on Thursday whether that search was still on.

EssilorLuxottica said French executive vice-chairman Hubert Sagnieres - who under the terms of the merger had been sharing powers with Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder and executive chairman of Luxottica, for the first three years - had decided to relinquish his executive functions.

Del Vecchio would do the same as a result, remaining non-executive chairman, it added.

Francesco Milleri, originally of Luxottica, will become chief executive with Paul du Saillant, of Essilor, stepping up as deputy CEO, the group said, until its shareholder meeting in 2021. It did not specify what would happen at that stage.

The merger of the lens and eyewear maker was seen as a smart strategic move by investors, but the integration of the two firms was plagued by tensions over governance, with both sides trading barbs over who was trying to dominate the company.

Sagnieres said in a statement that governance changes would become “more fluid” with the latest shake-up, adding it would help speed up the group’s integration.

($1 = 0.8153 euros)

Reporting by Sarah White