Two Adidas Shareholders Back Puma’s Gulden as Potential New CEO

A major Adidas investor has backed the idea of outgoing Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden taking over at the rival German sports company.

Gulden “is a boon for Adidas,” said Ingo Speich, head of corporate governance at Deka Investment in Frankfurt, a large Adidas shareholder. The 57-year-old “brings the necessary skills to the markets and capital markets,” Speich said in an emailed statement.

Deka is one of several shareholders calling for Adidas to bring in a new CEO who’s more attuned to the creative side of coming up with popular new sneakers and apparel.

Union Investment on Friday also added its support. Gulden’s track record at Puma has been impressive and he’s turned the smaller sports company into one of the industry’s strongest players, Thomas Joekel, a fund manager at Union, said by email. Gulden “would be an ideal successor,” he added.

Puma said on Friday that Gulden’s mandate as CEO will end in December and that it is appointing Arne Freundt, its chief commercial officer, to succeed Gulden in the top role at the beginning of next year. Gulden is a “potential successor” to current CEO Kasper Rorsted, Adidas said later that day. Its shares surged as much as 30 percent as investors welcomed the prospect of a leader who’s boosted Puma’s credentials among fashionistas and athletes alike.

Adidas in August initiated a search to replace Rorsted before his contract was set to expire. Since then, the company has warned that unsold shoes are piling up and cut its ties with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.

By Tim Loh and Rainer Buergin.

Learn more:

How Puma Became a Rare Wholesale Success Story

For years, the German activewear maker lacked a distinct identity. But Puma has found success in multi-brand retail and has gained a foothold in markets where Nike and Adidas aren’t dominant.

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