Adidas will launch an investigation into allegations of misconduct against Kanye West after the company was accused of turning a blind eye to the artist’s inappropriate behavior during a Yeezy sneaker tie-up.
The decision to launch an independent investigation was announced after one of Adidas’ largest shareholders demanded clarification of the alleged incidents.
Rolling Stone magazine reported this week that the American rapper and fashion designer, also known as Ye, played pornography at staff meetings and showed an intimate picture of his ex-wife Kim Kardashian during job interviews, referring to former Adidas and Yeezy employees.
The sports brand cut ties with West last month over his anti-Semitic remarks, ending their lucrative partnership.
According to Rolling Stone, former Adidas employees sent a letter claiming that senior executives were aware of West’s “problematic behavior” but “turned off their moral compass” and failed to protect their employees from “years of verbal abuse, profanity-laced tirades and bullying attacks.” “
“It is currently unclear whether the allegations made in the anonymous letter are true,” Adidas said in a statement on Thursday. “However, we take these allegations very seriously and have decided to immediately launch an independent investigation into the matter to resolve the allegations.”
Germany’s third-largest asset manager, Union Investment, wrote to Adidas on Thursday asking for more information about the claims. He has a 1 percent stake in the group and is a top 20 shareholder, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“Adidas must disclose when management and the supervisory board were first informed of the internal allegations,” Janne Werning, head of ESG Capital Markets & Stewardship at Union Investment, told the Financial Times.
Adidas has developed and marketed sneakers with West under the Yeezy brand for years. Analysts estimate that this represents about 7 percent of its total revenue. Adidas said in October that the Yeezy drop would cut its expected profits in half this year.
The German brand initially refused to address Wednesday’s news. “We will not discuss the private conversations, details or events leading up to our decision to end the adidas Yeezy partnership, and we decline to comment on any related speculation,” the company said, adding that it “has been and continues to be an active participant in the discussions.” with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the partnership.”
Belgian investor GBL, which is Adidas’ single largest shareholder, and German asset manager Deka, which holds a 0.8 percent stake, declined to comment. Frankfurt-based asset manager DWS, which holds a 1.8 percent stake, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.