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Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden Is Stepping Down & Could Be Heading to Adidas

Bjørn Gulden, who assumed the CEO role at Puma in 2013, is stepping away from the company.

“My current contract with Puma ends [Dec. 31] and after 9 years I have decided not to renew,” Gulden said in a statement. “I have had nine great years with the Puma family, and I am very proud of what we have achieved together.”

Puma announced that its supervisory board has appointed 11-year company veteran Arne Freundt as CEO and chairman of the company’s management board. Freundt’s contract is for four years, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

“I felt it was the right time for Puma, my successor and me to leave now,” Gulden said in a statement. “I still have a lot of energy and want to at least continue 5-10 more years in an operational role, which I think would have been too long for Puma. Arne has been working directly with me for 9 years, has always been part of setting the strategy and making big decisions and has made a big contribution to Puma’s success. He knows my strengths and weaknesses and I am sure he will do an even better job than me.”

With Gulden stepping down, speculation is mounting that he will soon take control of Puma’s biggest rival, Adidas. According to German publication Manager Magazin, Gulden will become the new head of Adidas at the end of the year, citing company sources.

Adidas AG confirmed the report this morning with a statement revealing it is in talks with Gulden as a potential successor to current CEO Kasper Rorsted.

Gulden has a history with Adidas, once serving as its SVP of apparel and accessories.

Last week, while discussing Puma’s Q3 results, Gulden shrugged off speculation he might be heading to Adidas. “You need to talk to Adi[das] about that,” he told reporters. “I don’t have any offer from them and that’s why I shouldn’t talk about it.”

Gulden assumed the CEO role at Puma in April 2013, succeeding Franz Koch, who stepped down from the position in March 2013. Prior to Puma, Gulden was the CEO of jewelry brand Pandora. Gulden —  a former pro soccer player in the German Bundesliga — has also had a stint at German footwear retailer Deichmann.

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