Under Armour's Kevin Plank says he and new CEO Patrik Frisk will 'divide and conquer'

Key Points
  • Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is stepping down from that role on Jan. 1.
  • COO Patrik Frisk is taking over, as Plank transitions to an executive chairman position and brand chief.
  • Plank tells CNBC: "This is my decision."
Watch CNBC's full interview with Under Armour's Kevin Plank and Patrik Frisk

Kevin Plank and Patrik Frisk will "divide and conquer" their responsibilities in leading Under Armour, the duo told CNBC on Tuesday morning, on the heels of the company announcing Plank will step down as CEO on Jan. 1.

Plank will be succeeded by Frisk, who is currently COO and only just joined the company about 2½ years ago. He will still report to Plank, however, as the founder transitions to an executive chairman role and becomes brand chief. Plank founded Under Armour in 1996.

"It will empower us. It's gonna be freedom," Plank told CNBC's Courtney Reagan in an interview. "It's gonna allow Patrik to make the decisions to run the day to day. And really allow me to make the decisions to continue the vision — to think about what's next for this brand and where it can go. It's a great partnership."

The news came somewhat unexpected from Under Armour, but Frisk has often been seen by Plank's side during major interviews and events, and he has been taking questions during earnings calls with analysts.

Frisk said that, internally, the transition has been "planned." "This is about continuity," he said. "We believe we have a strong plan in place. ... We want to free Kevin to be more strategic."

Under Armour shares were up more than 5% by Tuesday afternoon, having climbed over 20% this year.

Meanwhile, after the announcement was made Tuesday morning, there was some speculation that Plank had been pushed out of the CEO role because of the company's recent poor performance in North America. Or perhaps due to the fact that, up until last year, employees were able to expense visits to strip clubs on the company's dime. Plus there was the fact that women in the company reportedly felt overlooked for key jobs.

But Plank says that's not the case.

"This is my decision to get to this moment," he said, adding that he got feedback from Under Armour's board that he took into consideration. "Right now, there couldn't be a better time," to make this transition, he said.

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