January 17, 2017 / 8:03 AM / 10 months ago

Luxottica's Del Vecchio says listing in both Italy and France still an option: report

(Reuters) - The group created by the merger of Italy’s Luxottica (LUX.MI) and France’s Essilor (ESSI.PA) will consider a listing in both Italy and France, as well as the United States, Luxottica founder Leonardo del Vecchio was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Luxottica's headquarters is seen in downtown Milan, February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File photo

The companies agreed on Monday a 46 billion euro ($49 billion) merger to create a global eyewear powerhouse with annual revenue of more than 15 billion euros. They said the combined business would be listed in Paris.

“The double listing is an option on the table which we will evaluate in the next days, and so will the listing on the U.S. market,” said Del Vecchio in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The all-share deal is aimed at helping the two businesses take full advantage of expected strong demand for prescription spectacles and sunglasses, in a market worth 95 billion euros.

It also removes - for the time being - uncertainty over succession at Luxottica, which has lost three CEOs since 2014 because of divergences with Del Vecchio.

Del Vecchio rejected the idea that Luxottica was being sold off to the French and said that although his family investment company would dilute its position it would remain the biggest shareholder in EssilorLuxottica.

“The Luxottica world will always firmly remain Italian, with its head in Milan and its heart in the Belluno mountains,” Del Vecchio said, referring to the manufacturer’s base in the mountain town of Agordo.

Through holding Delfin, the 81-year-old tycoon will be the biggest shareholder of the combined group, with a stake of between 31 percent and 38 percent.

Del Vecchio, who returned to the helm of his company two years ago, will be the CEO and executive chairman of the merged group.

Despite his hands-on-role in Luxottica, he said that “as soon as I will realize that my presence is not essential I will leave any executive position in the group.”

He added past organizational changes in Luxottica, much criticized by the market, were “essential to have a stronger and more modern company capable of facing (the merger)”.

($1 = 0.9387 euros)

Reporting by Milan newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter

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