End seen in EssilorLuxottica power struggle

Paris (AFP) –


A power struggle at the top of the world's largest eyewear-maker EssilorLuxottica that has plunged the recently merged group into crisis has been resolved, the company said Monday.

French lens-manufacturer Essilor and Italy's Luxottica, which produces Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses, merged in October to create a new global giant in the sector with more than 15 billion euros ($17 billion) in annual sales.

But the heads of both companies have since accused each other of trying to take control of the group, violating the merger agreement which granted both equal power.

The clash between the group's Italian executive chairman, Luxottica founder Leonard Del Vecchio, and his French deputy and Essilor head Hubert Sagnieres had been roiling behind the scenes until it burst into the open in March.

The deadlock has been exacerbated by the split on the 16-member board of directors -- eight of whom were selected by Essilor and eight by Luxottica.

But in an announcement Monday the firm said that Del Vecchio and Sagnieres had agreed to confer more of their powers on two deputies, one from each of the companies, to push the merger forward.

"The Board of Directors of EssilorLuxottica unanimously supported and approved this agreement aimed at immediately making the group's structure more efficient and effective from an operational standpoint," it said in a statement, just four days ahead of a shareholders meeting.

Del Vecchio's holding group Delfin, which is the EssilorLuxottica's main shareholder with a 32 percent stake, has agreed to halt an arbitration request it filed in March with the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris.