* Herbert Hainer remains CEO until March 2017
* Contract originally due to expire in 2015
* Adidas to work with Hainer on succession plan
By Emma Thomasson
HERZOGENAURACH, Germany March 4 Adidas
has extended the contract of long-serving Chief
Executive Herbert Hainer until 2017 but will work with him on a
succession plan to ready the world's second-biggest sportswear
company for "generation change".
Hainer has been CEO since March 2001, making him the longest
serving boss among German blue-chip companies, prompting
speculation over whether he might think about stepping down as
he approaches his 60th birthday in July.
Igor Landau, chairman of the Adidas supervisory board, said
he was pleased Hainer had agreed to extend his contract, which
runs until 2015, even though the board would have liked him to
stay on even longer.
"Today's decision gives us sufficient time to ensure a
smooth transition at the helm of the Adidas Group and to
optimally facilitate the process of succession for the company,"
he said in a statement.
"We will continue to pursue the generation change which has
already been initiated within the Group's management team, thus
preparing the company for the next era of success," he added.
A handover in 2017 would make sense as it is a relatively
quiet year in terms of major sporting events, sandwiched between
the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 soccer World
Cup in Russia.
Landau noted that the value of Adidas had increased more
than fivefold under Hainer's leadership and said he was sure he
would continue to drive more growth at the company.
Adidas, which warned in September that 2013 sales and
profits would not rise as much as expected, reports full-year
results on Wednesday, which are expected to show it has fallen
further behind market leader Nike.
Adidas has only recently started to turn around fitness
brand Reebok that Hainer bought in 2006 in an attempt to expand
into Nike's home territory.
Last October, Adidas said it was shaking up its management
structures in North America and western Europe as it seeks to
boost growth in these regions.
In January, Adidas appointed Eric Liedtke as new global head
of brands on the five-man executive committee, to replace Erich
Stamminger, who had been with the company for 30 years.
Adidas shares were up by 2.6 percent at 1425 GMT, rebounding
from losses on Monday sparked by concerns over the impact of the
Ukraine crisis on the company's business in eastern Europe.