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The Wall Street Journal: Adidas execs worried about risk of exposure to Kanye West years ago

Adidas AG’s chief executive and senior leaders in Germany discussed as far back as four years ago the risk of continuing a relationship with Kanye West that they feared could blow up at any moment, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A 2018 presentation to members of the Adidas
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executive board, a group that included CEO Kasper Rorsted and the head of human resources, highlighted the risks for employees interacting with West and detailed mitigation strategies for the relationship with the Yeezy creator, including cutting ties with the rapper-turned-designer, documents show.

Instead of parting ways when concerns were raised, these people said, the senior executives had business-unit leaders share various proposals with West so Adidas could hang on to the Yeezy partnership, which analysts estimate accounted for 8% of annual sales.

These efforts to keep the Yeezy partnership occurred again in September when the Adidas executive board met to discuss West’s latest public outbursts, the people said.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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