Italy’s Luxottica and France’s Essilor agree to a €50bn merger – report
The deal between Luxottica and Essilor marks one of the biggest European cross-border transactions Reuters

Italian eyewear firm Luxottica and French lens-maker Essilor have reportedly agreed to a €50bn (£44.16bn) merger, which is expected to be announced on Monday (16 January).

Leonardo Del Vecchio, the 81-year-old founder of Luxottica that owns brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley and Sunglass Hut would become the single largest shareholder in the merged entity. He will hold the position of executive chairman and will hold 31% of the voting rights in the merged company.

According to reports, Essilor chairman Hubert Sagnieres will have equal share executive powers. He would hold the role of executive vice-chairman in the merged company, which will be listed in Paris.

The deal marks one of the biggest European cross-border transactions and would create a group that will have a market value of about €50bn, sales of about €14bn and an employee base of 130,000.

Reports suggest that the two companies were engaged in talks in 2014, when Essilor was focused on healthcare and Sagnieres had approached Luxottica with a merger proposition as it could get access to the consumer market. However, the deal failed to go through as Del Vecchio did not give his approval.

Unnamed sources cited by Financial Times, said that the deal between both companies is better now as Essilor has become a more consumer-facing company.

The deal is said to benefit Luxottica, whose shares have slid in recent times amid concerns over governance and succession. Analysts said that the deal would provide a succession plan for the merged group, considering the 20-year age gap between the heads of both companies.

"[The deal] would be excellent news for both stocks...It creates significant synergies, both in revenues and costs; it defuses the risk of heightened competition between the two and it removes uncertainty on succession at Luxottica," Luca Solca, MD at Exane BNP Paribas said.

The news comes at a time when industry data shows that there is a huge demand for both glasses and contact lenses. It is said that of the 7.3 billion people in the world today, 63% need vision correction, but only 1.9 billion have purchased glasses, contact lenses or had surgeries.