Commenting on speculation in the Italian press, Luxottica has admitted that it's studying a plan that would allow the management to obtain a higher shareholding in the company. It has stressed, however, that the plan is still in a preliminary phase and that in any case it would not allow the management to go above the 30 percent equity threshold that would trigger a public offering. Company officials deny that Leonardo Del Vecchio, the group's chairman, has announced that he plans to transfer a 49 percent stake to his son Claudio, who has made a fortune in the US apparel business.

The subject of a management buyout was broached in an Italian newspaper interview with Leonardo Del Vecchio where he indicated his intention of standing down from his position within the next 3-4 years, leaving the group in the hands of the management. Another Italian press report subsequently said that he may start to pull back already this coming spring.

In the interview, Del Vecchio remarked among other things that he had no interest in purchasing any European firms, including De Rigot. He also said he was not negotiating to acquire the 5 percent share that Giorgio Armani still owns in Luxottica and that he does not intend to acquire a stake in the fashion house of Gianni Versace, in spite of his presence on the company's board.