Leonardo Del Vecchio’s right-hand man was named on Monday to succeed the Italian billionaire — who died last week — as chairman of the family’s Delfin holding company.
Francesco Milleri, the 63-year-old appointed on June 28 to follow Del Vecchio as chairman of eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica SA, will now take on the same role at the holding, according to a statement Monday. Milleri has been EssilorLuxottica’s chief executive officer since 2020.
“On the basis of indications left by Del Vecchio, Milleri was named chairman,” Delfin said in the statement.
Delfin has assets of about $25 billion including a controlling stake in EssilorLuxottica, a holding in investment bank Mediobanca SpA of just below 20% and a stake in insurer Assicurazioni Generali SpA of just under 10%.
Del Vecchio, who passed away at 87, leaned on Milleri to help engineer the 2018 deal to combine Luxottica SpA, the firm the tycoon founded, with French lens maker Essilor, and then run the combined entity.
Now, Milleri will have a crucial role in the company’s future, charged with carrying out his mentor’s dream of catapulting EssilorLuxottica into the exclusive club of companies valued at more than 100 billion euros ($105 billion). The group currently has a market value of about 64 billion euros.
Milleri, who took over as CEO at EssilorLuxottica after three years of skirmishes between the company’s Italian and French sides, will have his work cut out for him at the holding as well.
The executive, who shares Del Vecchio’s vision for building Mediobanca and Generali into European leaders, will need to forge a strategy along with the billionaire’s heirs for the holding’s financial investments. Milleri worked alongside Del Vecchio for the last several years as he tried to bring about changes in strategy at the two companies.
Del Vecchio divided his fortune equally between his wife, his six children and the son of one of his former wives, who works at EssilorLuxottica.
The billionaire structured Delfin to avoid the risk that his heirs would break up the company he created and its main investments. A majority of 88% is needed to approve any major change, meaning all eight heirs would have to agree on any major shift in strategy.
Photograph: A worker arranges a display of Ray-Ban sunglasses, manufactured by EssilorLuxottica SA, inside a Ray-Ban store, in Barcelona, Spain. Photo credit: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg
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