Luxottica Group SpA (LUX) was the worst performer on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index today after the company’s founder, billionaire Leonardo Del Vecchio, sold a 3.8 percent stake in the world’s largest maker of eyeglasses in an offer aimed at boosting trading liquidity.
Luxottica shares declined as much as 8.7 percent, the biggest intraday decline since Oct. 24, 2008, to 26.85 euros. They traded at 27.49 euros as of 11:38 a.m. in Milan.
The size of the deal was lowered to 18 million shares from 33 million and the stock was sold at 27 euros each, or 8.2 percent below yesterday’s closing price, Chief Executive Officer Andrea Guerra told Bloomberg News in a phone interview today. The sale increased the stock’s float by 20 percent, Guerra said.
“The objective was clear, to increase liquidity.” Del Vecchio, who owns 62 percent of the Milan-based company, “doesn’t need cash,” the CEO said. “Luxottica should benefit from having a bigger free float,” Citigroup Inc. said in a note before the sale was completed.
Sales of Luxottica in Europe had a “notable improvement” in July and August, Guerra said. The company is also having “conversations” about potential acquisitions and disposals, though nothing is at the negotiating stage, Guerra said when asked about an Il Sole 24 report yesterday that Luxottica may sell its Sears Optical unit
The share sale was managed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UniCredit Bank AG.
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