Ray-Ban maker Luxottica has agreed to a €46bn (£41bn) merger with French lens manufacturer Essilor.
The Italian eyewear group and its French competitor announced that the combined group will be called EssilorLuxottica and will be listed in Paris - and is expected to generate revenues of more than €15bn.
Under the terms of the merger, Luxottica's 81-year old founder, Leonardo Del Vecchio, will take a stake of between 31 and 38 per cent in the combined group through his family holding Delfin, becoming the biggest shareholder in the company. Del Vecchio returned to the helm of the group in 2014 after previous boss Enrico Cavatorta quit. He will be chief executive and executive chairman of the merged company.
Essilor chairman and chief exec Hubert Sagnières will be executive vice-chairman and deputy CEO of EssilorLuxottica, with the same powers as the chairman and chief executive.
Luxottica and Essilor, which have a market value of around €24bn and €22bn respectively, had already explored a possible tie-up a few years ago.
This is the second major deal Essilor has entered into over the last 12 months - in August 2016 the French group bought online glasses retailer MyOptique, which owns the Sunglasses Shop and Glasses Direct.