Luxottica in 46 bn merger with French lens maker

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​Rome, Jan 16 (IANS/AKI) The world's largest glasses maker Luxottica has agreed to a 46 billion euro merger with rival French eye wear firm Essilor to create a global colossus with revenues of more than 15 billion euros, the firms said on Monday.

Luxottica and Essilor shares jumped on the news of a combined company that will make both frames and lenses employing 140,000 employees with sales in more than 150 countries.

Luxottica's 81-year-old founder and executive chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio said he had realised a "dream" with the tie-up with Essilor.

"With this agreement my dream to create a major global player in the eyewear industry, fully integrated and excellent in all its parts, comes true.

"Finally ... two products which are naturally complementary - namely frames and lenses - will be designed, manufactured and distributed under the same roof," Del Vecchio said.

One of Europe's largest cross-border mergers, the deal merges Italian eyewear designer Luxottica, which owns Ray-Ban and Oakley, with Essilor, the world's leading manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.

"By joining forces today, these two international players can now accelerate their global expansion to the benefit of customers, employees and shareholders as well as the industry as a whole," said Essilor's chairman and CEO Hubert Sagnieres.

Under the deal, Luxottica's main shareholder Delfin will be be the largest stakeholder in the new eyewear giant to be called EssilorLuxottica, Luxottica and Essilor said in a joint statement.

The deal will also help to offer a succession plan for Del Vecchio, an issue that weighed on the firm's share price, which has dropped 14 percent in the past year.

An orphan who became Italy's richest man, he founded Luxottica in 1961 and drove its growth through a series of acquisitions.

Since 2014 he has boosted investments to expand the company's retail network and increased its lens manufacturing business.

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