The Tapie affair
The history of the company as presented by its official web site is incomplete, perhaps because it is indirectly linked to financial scandals.
After a period of serious trouble following the death of Adolf Dassler's son
Horst Dassler in 1987, the company was bought in 1990 by Bernard Tapie, for 1.6
billion French francs ($320 million), which Tapie borrowed. Tapie was at the time a famous specialist of rescuing bankrupt companies, a business on which he built his fortune.
Tapie decided to move production offshore to Asia. He also hired Madonna for promotion.
In 1992, Tapie was unable to pay the interest from his loan. He mandated the Credit Lyonnais bank to sell adidas, and the bank subsequently converted the outstanding debt owed into equity of the enterprise, which was unusual for then-current French banking practice. Apparently, the state-owned bank had tried to get Tapie out of dire financial straits as a personal favour to Tapie, reportedly because Tapie was a minister of Urban Affairs (ministre de la Ville) in the French government at the time.
In February 1993, Credit Lyonnais sold adidas to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, a friend of Bernard Tapie (and cousin of Julia Louis-Dreyfus from the
Seinfeld TV series), for a much higher amount of money than what Tapie owed, 4.485 billion francs rather than 2.85 billion. Forgetting why the bank actually bought adidas, Tapie later sued the bank, because he felt
spoiled by the indirect sale.
Robert Louis-Dreyfus became the new CEO of the company. He is also the president of the Olympique de Marseille football team, to which Tapie is closely linked.
Tapie went bankrupt himself in 1994. He was the object of several lawsuits, notably related to match fixing at the football club. He spent 6 months in La Sant prison in Paris in 1997 after being sentenced to 18.
In 2005, French courts awarded Tapie a 135 million euro compensation (about 886 million francs).