Giuliano Tabacchi has taken a bow, bringing to a close a long family saga that came to a head last spring when his brother Vittorio resigned as chairman of the board. In a brief statement after a shareholders' meeting on Dec. 12, Safilo announced that the number of directors on the board had been reduced from 7 to 6. The 7th board member was Giuliano, who played a major role in building up Italy's second-largest eyewear company before Vittorio took over the helm. A third brother, Dino, holds 33 percent, but has always kept on the sidelines of the dispute between Vittorio and Giuliano.

In negotiating his departure from the board, Giuliano and his family have sold to Vittorio's children, 30-year-old Massimiliano and 25-year-old Samantha, their joint 25.7 percent stake in Fimit, the family holding company that owns 60 percent of Safilo. The shares were worth around 146 million euros. With Giuliano selling to his nephew and niece eliminated the obligation for Vittorio, who held with his wife Tatiana Ambonia hefty 41.2 percent stake, to make a public bid for the remaining 44 percent interest. The groundwork for this transaction was laid last May 12 when Vittorio and the other members of his family redistributed their own stakes in Fimit by setting up 4 separate firms, with their children each owning 3.2 percent of Fimit in order to prepare a smooth generational transition (see EyeWear Intelligence of Aug. 16).

Analysts began to suspect at the time that the Tabacchi brothers wanted to sell out to Gucci, or to Luxottica. On July 25, Safilo's share price shot up another 6 percent, to almost 10 euros, sparking rumors that Vittorio had bought out Giuliano's stake for about 500 billion lire (e970m-$860m), making a bid for the remaining equity inevitable. Safilo denied the rumors.

Safilo's shareholders also decided to convert the group's equity from Lire into euros. It's now composed of 102,500,000 shares with a nominal value of 0.10 euros.