Nike Starts Phil Knight Succession Planning; Knight Recommends Mark Parker

Phil Knight
Phil Knight, chairman of Nike Inc.
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Nike Inc. founder Phil Knight is set to transfer ownership of his shares in the company to Swoosh LLC and has recommended that Mark Parker, Nike’s president and CEO since 2006, succeed him as chairman of Nike’s board.

The announcement by the company and Knight states that Nike has initiated a succession-planning process that will conclude with the appointment of the giant’s next chairman, expected sometime in 2016. The firm also announced that Travis Knight, an Academy Award-nominated animator and Phil Knight’s son, will join Nike’s board of directors, effective immediately.

“I have long felt a great responsibility to provide clarity and certainty for the long-term governance and leadership of Nike and for my ultimate transition as chairman,” Knight said in a release. “I have worked closely with the Nike board in developing this plan and in identifying the most qualified person to serve as my successor in this role. I believe Mark is the best choice.”

Knight has created Swoosh — a limited-liability company — to hold the majority of his shares of Nike Class A Common Stock.

“Swoosh will itself have a governance structure that is designed to make thoughtful and forward-looking decisions with respect to the ongoing voting and management of those shares,” Knight said in a statement.

Knight said he formed a board of directors for Swoosh to serve as its governing body and determine how the Class A shares are voted and managed. The board will initially have four members, who exercise five votes. Two will initially be held by Knight, and the other three will be exercised by Parker; Alan Graf Jr., FedEx Corp. EVP and CFO and a Nike director since 2002; and John Donahoe II, president and CEO of eBay Inc. and a Nike director since 2014.

Nike’s founder added that he intends to continue to work with Nike after his chairmanship ends.

“For me, Nike has always been more than just a company — it has been my life’s passion,” said Knight.