Luxottica founder says he and ex-CEO clashed over running of company

Tue Sep 2, 2014 3:14am EDT
 
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MILAN (Reuters) - Leonardo Del Vecchio, the 79-year-old founder of Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, decided to replace long-term CEO Andrea Guerra after Guerra rejected his plans to take a more active role in the firm to prepare for a handover to his offspring.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore published on Tuesday, Del Vecchio said Guerra, who left on Monday after a 10-year tenure, had opposed a radical overhaul of the management structure aimed at better preparing the company for the future.

"I took the decision more or less around the end of 2013 and the beginning of this year, when he (Guerra) rejected my plan to take back a more active role in the running of the company," Del Vecchio was quoted as saying.

Del Vecchio, who founded Luxottica (LUX.MI: Quote) in 1961 and owns 61 percent of the world's biggest eyewear maker by revenue, said the complex new management structure - which will see the CEO functions split among three managers - was something he drew up as a way to ensure a smooth transition to his offspring.

"When approaching 80, one must think about one's children: you can put in writing that succession plans had a determining role in the decision," Del Vecchio said.

Luxottica, maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses, named 53-year-old Enrico Cavatorta, current chief financial officer and general manager, as co-chief executive. It is recruiting externally for another co-CEO whom Cavatorta told a press conference on Monday could be in place by the end of the year.

The co-CEOs will be part of an executive committee that will be led by the chairman and include, at least initially, a senior executive in charge mainly of production.

In the interview, Del Vecchio dismissed suggestions that he and Guerra had clashed over strategy, including a decision earlier this year to agree to develop and manufacture Google's (GOOGL.O: Quote) high-tech Glass spectacles.

When rumors about Guerra's departure initially surfaced two weeks ago, the company said the two had been debating strategy for some time.   Continued...