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EssilorLuxottica hires two headhunters to find new CEO

PARIS (Reuters) - French-Italian eyewear group EssilorLuxottica has hired two headhunters to search for a new chief executive officer in a bid to cool a conflict between its French and Italian partners over leadership of the company.

EssilorLuxottica, which resulted from the merger of French lenses maker Essilor and Italian frame manufacturer Luxottica last October, is being torn apart as the two groups, who were supposed to have equal weighting in the combined company's leadership, accuse each other of trying to dominate.

Tensions became apparent last November, when Luxottica's founder Leonardo Del Vecchio, who is the chairman of the merged entity, appeared to tap his right-hand man, Francesco Milleri, for the chief executive's role, irking the French side.

Hubert Sagnieres, who came from Essilor and is vice-chairman of the new entity, has openly criticised Del Vecchio.

As the conflict has focussed on who will lead the company, EssilorLuxottica's nomination and compensation committee has managed to make Del Vecchio and Sagnieres accept the hiring of two recruitment firms to find a new CEO, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The future CEO will be agreed and proposed to the Board of Directors for joint appointment by both the Executive Chairman and the Executive Vice-Chairman," the statement said.

The group's new boss, who will first hold the title of "Directeur General Delegue", will run EssilorLuxottica as a non-operating company and will assist Del Vecchio and Sagnieres to integrate the two firms, that will however remain as separate and autonomous legal entities.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Editing by Sarah White and Kirsten Donovan)