Adidas Begins Search to Replace CEO Herbert Hainer

Feb 19 2015 | 9:35am ET

The board of sportswear giant Adidas has begun a search to replace its CEO Herbert Hainer. The news comes after the executive has faced increasing pressure due to a loss of marketshare to its competitor Nike.

Hainer is the company's longest-serving CEO, a position he assumed in 2001. However, reports indicate that he has been under fire from hedge funds and investment firms in recent months. Several funds were reportedly looking at boosting their stakes in the sportswear company in order to force Hainer out.

In September, German business publication Manager Magazin listed Daniel Loeb's fund Third Point and firms like TCI and Knight Vinke as possible investors seeking a shakeup.  

Perhaps the most vocal has been Ingo Speich, a fund manager at Union Investment.

"A new strategy will only be credible with a new leadership," Speich said in a recent email to the media. "The sooner Mr Hainer hands the baton on to a successor, the better."

Hainer's contract is due to end in 2017, and he has committed publicly to finishing his term. He is due to present a new long-term corporate strategy and financial outlook through 2020 on March 26. 

“The supervisory board will now start to look for the best possible candidate for my succession, both inside and outside the Adidas group,” Hainer wrote in a letter to employees. “This will be a long-term process that has just begun.”

Hainer's letter was released to the media on Thursday in response to new speculation on his company's search process.

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