L.A. Gear’s No. 2 Executive, Sandy Saemann, Is Leaving


Sneaker marketer L.A. Gear on Wednesday announced the surprise resignation of its No. 2 executive, Sandy Saemann, a longtime associate of company Chairman Robert Y. Greenberg.

L.A. Gear said the decision was Saemann’s own and was unrelated to its agreement announced two weeks ago to sell an effective 30% stake in the slumping company to Roy E. Disney’s Trefoil Capital Investors fund. In its news release, Marina del Rey-based L.A. Gear said Saemann “is resigning to pursue other business interests.”

Saemann, 43, stepped down as the company’s executive vice president, secretary and as a member of the board. He continues to hold about 5%, or 1 million shares, of L.A. Gear’s stock, making him--until the Trefoil deal is completed--the second-largest investor in the company.


Greenberg is now the biggest shareholder, with a stake of nearly 20%.

While L.A. Gear grew rapidly in the late 1980s to become the nation’s third-largest sneaker firm, Saemann was credited with saving millions of dollars by creating the company’s advertising through an in-house agency. But critics over the years have also characterized L.A. Gear’s advertising as, at times, less professional than that of its bigger rivals, Nike and Reebok.

During his reign as L.A. Gear’s sales and marketing chief, Saemann also spent large sums on signing celebrities to endorse the company’s products. That included a deal with pop star Michael Jackson on a line of sneakers that proved disastrous for the company.

Analyst Josie Esquivel of Shearson Lehman Bros. said Saemann’s departure will be “a loss, but not a serious one.”

“While Sandy Saemann was highly creative in advertising and marketing, the driving force in the company always was Robert Greenberg,” she added.

L.A. Gear said it expects to divide Saemann’s duties as an executive among other managers and that a replacement would be nominated to the company’s board later this year. Saemann, who could not be reached for comment, will serve as a consultant to L.A. Gear for 2 1/2 years for an undisclosed sum.

Some industry observers suggested that Saemann, who recently returned to work from his honeymoon, simply lost the desire to continue at a company where he had already earned a fortune. In 1990, he received cash compensation of $2.54 million. L.A. Gear released its announcement after the stock market closed. Its shares finished at $10.50, off 12.5 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange. At that price, Saemann’s stake would be worth more than $10 million.