Puma chief Franz Koch to quit end-March

FRANKFURT - German sportswear giant Puma said on Wednesday its chief executive Franz Koch is to step down at the end of March as part of a wider management shake-up at the company.

"The administrative board of Puma announced today that, by mutual agreement, Franz Koch will step down from his position as chief executive and member of the group executive committee of Puma's main shareholder PPR, at the end of March 2013," the company said in a statement.

"Franz Koch will remain CEO of Puma until the end of March, and work in close collaboration with the new chairman of the administrative board, Jean-François Palus," the statement said.

Palus replaced Jochen Zeitz who resigned as administrative board chief on 1 December.

The departure of Zeitz - who had previously been Puma's CEO for 18 years - "marks the end of a chapter in the history of Puma. The company is therefore entering a new phase in its development and is changing its top management structure to take on those challenges," the company explained.

Puma is in the throes of a massive restructuring and cost-cutting programme, which weighed on earnings in the third quarter and will also hit full-year profits, the company warned in October.

Koch, 33, was appointed CEO at Puma in July 2011.

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