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September 22, 2009

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Rivals bury hatchet - for a day

ATHLETIC apparel makers Puma and Adidas are taking to the pitch in a joint bid to promote global peace, six decades after the brothers behind the two firms parted company in an acrimonious split.

The fierce business rivals were to play each other in a football match yesterday, the first time in recent memory they have participated in a joint event together.

It is part of efforts to raise awareness for Peace One Day, an international day of initiatives that calls for combatants worldwide to lay down their arms, if only for a day.

"Puma has been cooperating with Peace One Day since 2007," Puma chief executive Jochen Zeitz said last week. "We felt it was a great opportunity to raise even more awareness through this symbolic handshake between both companies."

Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said the decision to take part was a sign "that sport can bring the world together."

Still, the companies have no plan for any joint projects involving their shoes, jerseys and other sportswear goods.

Both trace their lineage to the brothers Rudolf and Adi Dassler, whose mysterious feud split the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Factory into two companies in 1948.

Adolf Dassler set up Adidas, while Rudolf set up Puma - both based in the small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach. The reasons for the split have never been clear.

Adidas is the world's No. 2 sportswear company and Puma the No. 3 behind the American market leader Nike.

Adidas AG, which owns Reebok and TaylorMade-adidas golf, had sales of 10.8 billion euros (nearly US$16 billion) last year.

Puma in which French luxury goods company PPR bought a majority stake in 2007, last year had 2.5 billion euros in sales.

Peace One Day was started by British filmmaker Jeremy Gilley as a way to set aside one day of the year for nonviolence.


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