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Adidas Eyes Year-End Basketball Boost With End Of NBA Lockout

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FRANKFURT - The chief executive of Adidas (ADSGn.DE), the world's second largest sportswear company, is eyeing a year-end boost to its basketball business following the end of the NBA lockout in the United States.

Over the weekend, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, which paves the way for a shortened 66-game season to start on Christmas Day.

For sports apparel companies such as Adidas and Nike (NKE.N) as well as retailers like Finish Line (FINL.O) and Footlocker (FL.N), it was important for the season to start up before Christmas to avoid losing sales in the busiest shopping weeks of the year.

Analysts had said Adidas could face losing up to half of its sales of licensed NBA apparel should the lockout drag on and the company had admitted at its third-quarter results in November it expected licensed apparel sales to be hit.

"Without any doubt, the start of the season in December will help us to continue our growth momentum and finish the year strong in the largest basketball markets, North America and Greater China," Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said in comments emailed to Reuters.

Adidas said its overall sales of basketball products in North America were up 21 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared with an 11 percent rise for the division on a global basis.

Footlocker, which sells branded shoes of Nike and Adidas, saw its shares rise 9 percent on Monday after the news.

Adidas shares were up 0.4 percent at 49.93 euros at 1136 GMT on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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