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Ray-Ban owner Luxottica, with LI offices, agrees to merger

The former home of Luxottica in Port Washington.

The former home of Luxottica in Port Washington. The Milan-based eyeglass company moved to smaller quarters after shifting warehouse operations off Long Island. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

PARIS — A new European eyewear giant worth more than $52.5 billion is set to emerge as Italy’s Luxottica — owner of Ray-Ban and Oakley glasses — merges with French lens manufacturer Essilor.

Essilor International SA said Monday that it had reached a share exchange deal with Luxottica’s main shareholder, Delfin, to create a combined company making both frames and lenses.

Shares jumped in both Milan-based Luxottica, with offices in Port Washington, and Essilor, headquartered near Paris.

The new company would have combined revenues of more than 15 billion euros ($16 billion), 140,000 employees and sales in more than 150 countries. Including Monday’s share gains, the overall market capitalization would exceed 50 billion euros.

Essilor said the merger is an effort to meet growing global demand for corrective lenses, sunglasses and luxury frames.

Luxottica had long been the giant in the sector, with big acquisitions in the U.S. including Ray-Ban. It also does licensing for many fashion brands, including Prada, Chanel, Armani, Burberry and Dolce&Gabbana.

In 2010, Luxottica moved its U.S. warehouse operations from Long Island to Atlanta and Ontario, California. But in 2011, the company agreed to maintain a 30,065-square-foot office in Port Washington and add 10 people to a 167-person workforce after receiving tax breaks from Nassau County.

A call to Luxottica officials Monday seeking comment on the merger’s impact on Long Island operations was not immediately returned.

Luxottica founder Leonardo Del Vecchio would become executive chairman and CEO of the new entity, called EssilorLuxottica.

Delfin would be the largest shareholder, owning between 31 percent and 38 percent of the new company.

Shares in Luxottica jumped 8.5 percent to 53.75 euros in Milan, while Essilor’s rose 12 percent to 114.30 euros.

With Ken Schachter

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