Adidas CEO Hainer to build investor bridges amid turnaround

  • Business
  • Thursday, 10 Dec 2015

FRANKFURT: Adidas AG CEO Herbert Hainer said he’s exploring the sportswear maker’s portfolio to establish which units fit with long-term plans as his strategy comes under the spotlight by shareholders known as agitators for change.

The company was looking at all its businesses, Hainer said at a meeting with reporters at the company’s Herzogenaurach, Germany headquarters Tuesday. The CCM ice-hockey unit has attracted interested parties, though no active sale process is under way, he said.

The Reebok owner’s strategic direction was already the subject of debate when Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris became its biggest shareholder in October. Like fellow investor Southeastern Asset Management Inc, Sawiris is known for actively pushing for change at some companies he holds stakes in. Adidas was maintaining a dialogue with investors, said Hainer, 61, as he seeks to effect a turnaround during his final stretch as CEO.

“We want them to be happy with our plans so they buy and hold the stock,” Hainer said, adding that he speaks two or three times a year with investors including Southeastern, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA and BlackRock Inc. “I’ve never spoken with Sawiris,” partly because of coordinating schedules. Of course we’re going to talk with him.”

As recruiter Egon Zehnder leads a search for his successor, Hainer vowed again to stay with the company until his contract ends in March 2017.

Southeastern, which holds about 3% of the shares, has said an external candidate would be best placed to help the German company in its market-share battle with Nike Inc.

Adidas is rebounding from a dismal 2014, during which sales stagnated, the shares tumbled 38%, and it scrapped its 2015 financial targets. The company raised its full-year revenue and profit targets Nov 5 while reporting third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates. – Bloomberg

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