An Adrenalin Rush At Adidas

Its deft Salomon deal puts archrival Nike on notice

After Robert Louis-Dreyfus clinched a deal on Sept. 15 to buy French sports-equipment maker Salomon, he celebrated with Salomon family members over champagne at Geneva's swank Hotel des Bergues. The Adidas CEO had reason to gloat a little. In one deft stroke, Louis-Dreyfus has broadened his sports company's product base and balanced its geographic reach. With better insulation against fickle swings in fashion and regional downturns, Adidas will be a much stronger competitor in the $100 billion global sports-equipment market. "We're getting into the big boys' playground," says Bernard Salomon, son of retired company founder Georges and head of the Mavic bicycle-components division.

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