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S.C. Johnson Chief William D. Perez Named as Replacement

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DETROIT ( -- In a stunning move announced just before the markets closed, Nike said its co-founder and president-CEO, Philip Knight, is resigning effective Dec. 28.
Photo: AP
Philip Knight, co-founder and CEO of Nike, is stepping down.

Mr. Knight will be replaced by William D. Perez, current president-CEO of S.C. Johnson & Son.

Mr. Knight will continue on as chairman of Nike's board. Mr. Perez will assume the titles of president-CEO and director.

S.C. Johnson & Son quickly announced that Dr. H. Fisk Johnson has been named the company's CEO. He was previously its chairman and chairman of the board.

Packaged goods leader
Nike declined to comment, other than putting out a release regarding Mr. Knight's resignation. But his successor begs the question of what direction the legendary sneaker and apparel company is headed in by naming someone with a packaged goods background as its new leader.

In a statement, Mr. Knight said: "This begins an exciting new chapter in Nike's ongoing business evolution. Bill is a highly regarded and deeply talented leader with more than 30 years experience as a builder of global brands and businesses. Bill has a demonstrated commitment to consumers, new product innovation and development, growth, team building and talent development. He also knows how to operate a highly socially responsible global business, all of which make him the right person to lead Nike."

Share price dips
Mr. Perez Perez will receive an initial annual salary of $1.35 million and 200,000 shares of Nike stock. Shares of Nike fell 99 cents to close at $85 on the New York Stock Exchange before the news was released. In after-hours trading, the shares fell another $1.

Mr. Knight, 66, co-founded Nike in 1972 with legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman. From its fledgling years when Mr. Knight sold track shoes from the trunk of his car, Nike has become a company with $12.3 billion in revenue in fiscal 2004, employing 24,000 people worldwide and selling its products in nearly 200 countries.

Pioneering executive
Not only did he build a successful company, but under his direction he pioneered the use of athletes as endorsers and, with Portland-based ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, created a sea-change in the advertising world.

Mr. Perez said in a statement that he would follow Mr. Knight's vision.

"You can feel the innovative spirit that Phil and his team inspires from product design, to retail to athlete partnerships," he said. "And I'm a strong believer in 'Just Do It.'"

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