MILAN — Luxottica Group SpA has taken a 36 percent stake in Italian optical chain Salmoiraghi & Viganò for 45 million euros, or $58.5 million at current exchange. Entering as a financial partner, Luxottica will provide Salmoiraghi & Viganò with resources to grow while the latter maintains control of company operations.


Italy’s giant eyewearmaker will subscribe for newly issued shares of Salmoiraghi & Viganò S.p.A. under an agreement with the chain’s sole shareholder, Salmoiraghi & Viganò Holding S.R.L.

“In the last few years, the Italian eyewear sector has undergone many important changes.Withthis investment, we aim to provide the sector’s leading Italian chain with additional resources and allow it to pursue its growth projects,” said Andrea Guerra, chief executive officer of Luxottica.“This transaction demonstrates our commitment to finding solutions for our business partners, providing concrete support to the market and looking optimistically to the future of our country.”

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Dino Tabacchi, chairman and major shareholder of Salmoiraghi & Viganò, said the partnership represented “ a great opportunity” for the company, which has a history of more than 150 years and counts about 500 points of sale in Italy. The agreement, he said, will help “to strengthen our brand in the Italian market. We are extremely delighted to enter into an arrangement with Luxottica, which will allow us to carry on with our company’s development plans.”

Tabacchi  took control of Salmoiraghi & Viganò in 2002, after he left eyewear maker Safilo, which his family owned at the time. In the fiscal year ended September 30, Salmoiraghi & Viganò reported sales of 170 million euros, or $221 million. It is understood the company was weighed down by debt of about 100 million euros, or $130 million. Sources say the French group Afflelou and Italian eyewear maker De Rigo were also looking at the optical chain’s financial data.

Starting in 2017, Luxottica and Salmoiraghi & Viganò Holding will have the right to exercise a put and call option. Salmoiraghi & Viganò was advised by Rothschild.