July 28, 2021

“Leonardo Del Vecchio won his campaign in France”

Chronic. Leonardo Del Vecchio won his campaign in France. Three years after the merger “Between equals” of his company Luxottica, world number one in spectacle frames (Ray-Ban, Oakley, etc.), with the French manufacturer of corrective lenses Essilor (Varilux, etc.), the 86-year-old entrepreneur has confirmed his mastery. The general shareholders’ meeting, held on Friday May 21, approved the appointment of Francesco Milleri to general management, the Frenchman Paul du Saillant becoming deputy managing director. Once again, the illusion of a marriage between equals completely “pschitt” …

Read also Big wedding in sight between Essilor and Luxottica

“His” man of confidence at the helm and he at the presidency, the Italian patriarch got what he was looking for from the beginning, despite the opposition of French partners: control of the new Italian-French giant, of which he owns 32% through its Luxembourg holding company, Delfin. In 2019, a few months after the operation, a governance crisis erupted. Both sides publicly accused each other of “Violate” their agreement. Hubert Sagnières, then Deputy CEO (behind Mr. Del Vecchio), refused the future appointment of Mr. Milleri. The search outside for a boss with an international profile had fizzled out. And the early departure of Mr. Sagnières, at the end of 2020, precipitated the Italian victory.

His life and his work

The company remains based in Charenton-le-Pont (Val-de-Marne) and listed in Paris, with a market capitalization of 62 billion euros. But the power has passed to the Italians. And who knows if the French name will not disappear, as in the Franco-Swiss marriage Lafarge-Holcim? This new distribution of powers, carried out discreetly and without internal turmoil, aroused the concern of the unions and the 4,500 French employees, who weigh little in a multinational employing 150,000 people.

No one could believe that Mr. Del Vecchio would let go. Creator of his first eyewear workshop in Agordo (Veneto) in 1961, the poor kid from Milan embodies one of the most beautiful industrial successes of post-war Italy. Luxottica, who made him the second fortune on the Peninsula, is his life and work, though he did not find among his six children a personality capable of succeeding him at the head of his empire.

Mr. Del Vecchio will end his life with a heritage today estimated at 23 billion euros. He intends to play the leading roles to the end in a transalpine capitalism that he considers not very dynamic. He has invested in the second Italian bank, UniCredit, and the insurer Generali. Above all, he has become the largest shareholder in the investment bank Mediobanca (15.4%), a sleeping beauty that he wants to wake up. And the Beautiful country with her.