May 12, 2015 / 10:38 AM / 5 years ago

Adidas not approached by activist investors: CEO

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Adidas (ADSGn.DE), which has hired advisers to help fend off any potential hostile takeover bid, said it had not been approached by activist investors seeking to build a stake,

A shareholder of Adidas, the world's second largest sports apparel firm, looks at shoes during the company annual general meeting in the northern Bavarian town of Fuerth near Nuremberg, Germany, May 7, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Germany’s manager magazin reported last September that hedge funds were considering taking a stake in the world’s second-largest sportswear company to push for sweeping changes, including the removal of Chief Executive Herbert Hainer and the possible spin off of fitness brand Reebok and golf business TaylorMade.

“Nobody has approached us because they want to buy the company or buy a large number of shares,” Hainer told journalists at an event at an Adidas showroom in Munich.

Adidas shares tumbled 38 percent last year as the company was hit by falling golf sales and its heavy exposure to Russia. But they have rebounded this year, helped by a big share buyback and early signs of better performance.

Hainer defended the decision to appoint advisers Perella Weinberg Partners as justified by market conditions.

“When cheap money is available in the market, it looks for investment opportunities,” Hainer said. “We just want to make sure that anybody who invests has the right intentions.”

Hainer faced a rocky ride last week at the Adidas annual general meeting as shareholders expressed doubts that a new strategy launched in March would be enough to challenge the dominance of rival Nike (NKE.N).

The Adidas board has said it is looking for a successor to Hainer, although he seems in no hurry to leave as his contract runs until 2017. Hainer, CEO since 2001, said he could not say how long the recruitment process would take.

Hainer said Adidas was committed to the golf business, which he noted had been a major contributor to group profit in the past, although it would closely watch the market to see if growth returns in a sport whose popularity has waned.

He was also optimistic for the group’s Russia business, saying he expected it to be profitable this year, helped by a strengthening rouble and price increases.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Keith Weir

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