Adidas starts search to replace veteran CEO

Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:18am EST
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By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) - The board of Adidas (ADSGn.DE: Quote) has launched a formal search for a successor to Chief Executive Herbert Hainer who has faced criticism as the German sportswear company has lost ground to U.S. rival Nike (NKE.N: Quote).

Hainer, 60, in the job since 2001 and the longest-serving CEO of a German blue-chip company, wrote to staff confirming the move after Manager Magazin reported the world's second-biggest sportswear group was looking for his successor.

Hainer, whose contract was extended until 2017 last year with a mandate to work on a succession plan, said the search for a new CEO was a "long-term process" that would involve both internal and external candidates.

He is due to launch a new long-term strategic plan on March 26 together with his two most likely successors, global brand chief Eric Liedtke and sales boss Roland Auschel.

Hainer said he wants to get the plan off to a "great start", without saying if he will see out his existing contract.

Ingo Speich, a fund manager at Union Investment which has a 0.9 percent stake in Adidas, said the CEO should go as quickly as possible.

"A new strategy will only be credible with a new leadership," Speich, who has been Hainer's most outspoken critic, told journalists in an email.

"The sooner Mr Hainer hands the baton on to a successor, the better."   Continued...

Herbert Hainer, chief executive officer of Adidas, the world's second largest sports apparel firm, waves while attending the company annual general meeting in the northern Bavarian town of Fuerth near Nuremberg in this file photo taken on May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle