Luxottica shares fall amid speculation Andrea Guerra leaving 'over Google Glass row'

Eyewear giant recently agreed a partnership with Google to develop fashionable versions of Google Glass

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The Independent Online

Italian luxury eyewear group Luxottica could lose its chief executive Andrea Guerra amid rumours of a falling out over politics, strategy and a deal with Google Glass.

Reports in Italy suggest Mr Guerra has fallen out with chairman and founder Leonardo Del Vecchio - Italy’s second richest man. Shares in the world's largest producer and retailer of sunglasses and prescription glasses fell sharply and closed down nearly 4 per cent following press reports.

Reports suggest the disagreement between the two men could be about Mr Guerra’s plan to become a minister in the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, or could be about the strategy for the company. It recently agreed a partnership with Google to develop fashionable versions of Google’s smart eyewear - Google Glass.

Luxottica, which owns brands Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban and Oakley and produces sunglasses for a variety of top designer labels, has performed strongly since Mr Guerra joined ten years ago and today’s share price reaction was due to concerns about who might take over from him.

Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, said family-controlled business often have issues with chief executives from outside the family. Mr Del Vecchio owns 66.5 per cent, with fashion designer Giorgio Armani holding another 5 per cent.

Mr Solca said: "Controlling majority shareholders "consume" chief executives after a while. This has been a trademark of Italian family based capitalism. Think of FIAT, for example. Having said that, Mr Guerra's track record over ten years would look pretty solid in most institutional investors' eyes."

A spokesman for Luxottica said: “The group is not commenting on media speculation. At present no board meeting has been called. We can confirm that for some time the chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio and the chief executive Andrea Guerra have been debating the best strategic direction for the group.”