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Nike Chairman and Founder Phil Knight Announces Succession Plans

Nike revealed major plans for its next phase.

Nike Chairman and Founder Phil Knight announced Tuesday plans to transfer his shares of the company to the newly created Swoosh, LLC. He has also informed Nike Board of Directors of his recommendation to have Nike President and CEO Mark Parker succeed him as chairman.

The announcements marks the start of a succession planning process that will conclude with the appointment of Nike’s next chairman in 2016.

In a release, Knight said, “For me, Nike has always been more than just a company–it has been my life’s passion. Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time considering how I might someday evolve my ownership and leadership of Nike in a way that benefits all of our stakeholders. Today, we have taken a number of important steps that will continue to promote Nike’s long-term growth.”

To implement the new ownership structure of Knight’s Nike Class A Common Stock, Knight has transferred 128,500,000 shares of Nike Class A Common Stock to Swoosh, a limited-liability company, which will be served by a Board of Directors to determine how the shares are voted and managed going forward.

Swoosh’s board will initially have four members, who exercise five votes. Of the five votes, two will be held by Knight, and the other three will be held by Parker, Alan Graf, Jr., executive vice president and CFO of FedEx Corporation and a Nike director since 2002, and John Donahoe II, president and CEO of eBay and a Nike director since 2014.

The company has also appointed Travis Knight, Phil Knight’s son and the president and CEO of the animation studio Laika, LLC, to Nike’s Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“Phil founded Nike to serve athletes,” Parker said in a release. “That vision and inspiration continues to drive our success today around the world. I have been privileged to work with Phil for over 35 years, and Nike’s exceptional management team and I are committed to building on Phil’s vision to drive the next era of growth for Nike.”