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Adidas Wants to Give Big Investors Board Seats

Adidas Lowers It's Yearly Outlook Based On Turmoil In RussiaAdidas Lowers It's Yearly Outlook Based On Turmoil In Russia
Faster, higher, stronger...Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

German athletic-gear maker Adidas unveiled a proposal to give two new board seats to representatives that recently made big bets in the company’s stock, a move that comes as shares have enjoyed a steady rebound in recent months.

Adidas is asking shareholders to approve a plan to increase the company’s supervisory board to 16 members from the current roster of 12. Adidas has nominated Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and Ian Gallienne, co-CEO of Belgian investment group GB. The other two seats would be elected by employees of Adidas. The vote is to be held at the company’s annual meeting on May 12.

Why are these potential appointments so important? Adidas is notably giving a more active voice to two important shareholders. Sawiris obtained a 6% stake in the company in October, while Gallienne is the son-in-law of Belgium’s richest man Albert Frere, who founded GBL (which also took a stake in Adidas last year.)

The appointments would also bring much-needed regional diversity to Adidas’ supervisory board, which currently is represented by 11 Germans and only one French-born representative. In the past, Adidas has been criticized for a board that doesn’t have as strong of a vision as top rival Nike (NKE). The U.S. company’s board notably includes Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Adidas is kicking off 2016 with a lot of change–and positive momentum. Sales have improved in the critical U.S. market, where Adidas had been underperforming in recent years. A new CEO will start to steer the company in August. Investors are also getting excited, as shares have risen about 10% this year and surged 42% the past 52 weeks.