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Luxottica's co-CEO to quit as tensions with Del Vecchio family mount

Italy's Luxottica said its co-chief executive planned to resign after just six weeks in the job, as the global eye wear company struggles to stabilize its management team after the abrupt departure of longtime boss Andrea Guerra last month.


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The maker of Ray Ban and Oakley sunglasses said in a statement Enrico Cavatorta had indicated to the Luxottica board that he planned to resign. Since his appointment on Sept. 1, the 53-year old CEO clashed with company founder andchairman Leonardo del Vecchio, a person familiar with the matter said.

Cavatorta and Del Vecchio, who owns 61 percent of Luxottica shares, had met earlier in the day, but failed to patch up their differences, the person said.

Though Luxottica said it planned to name another interim chief, the departure of two executives in a row is likely to raise questions among investors about the company's governance.

Guerra, who over his decade as CEO globalized the company, also left because of disagreements with Del Vecchio, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cavatorta was not made available for comment, and did not respond to a Reuters email request for comment. The company did not reply to further requests for comment.

Del Vecchio, 79, has for many years kept out of the operations of the business. But in recent months he has become more involved, sources said, increasing his presence in the office and eventually formally taking on executive powers.

Luxottica said in its statement a board meeting had been called for Monday to discuss the situation. It said Del Vecchio will propose that the board appoint Massimo Vian, current Chief Operations Officer, "with the mandate of co-CEO for Operations and Product, and to entrust him on an interim basis with responsibility for Corporate Functions and Markets."

Cavatorta, the company's chief financial officer, took over as CEO for corporate functions on Sept. 1 as part of a complex management structure that envisaged a co-CEO to oversee markets.

However Luxottica has not yet announced the appointment of a second co-CEO who was supposed to flank Cavatorta, and Cavatorta himself decided to leave because of disagreements over Del Vecchio and his family's influence in the group, sources said.

"The company also confirms that the search process for a co-CEO for Markets is progressing, based on a high profile list of candidates," its statement on Sunday said.

Del Vecchio had always prided himself in keeping his family -- which comprises six children from three different wives -- out of his business.

Under Guerra, sales at Luxottica more than doubled to 7.3 billion euros, boosted in part by acquisitions, making it the world's biggest eye wear group.

Luxottica's dominant position in eye wear, due to a strong brand portfolio and a successful design-to-distribution business model, have so far reassured investors and supported the stock despite the turmoil.