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Lego boss (61) replaced 'because of his age'

Briton Bali Padda held the job for just eight months.

lego boss Bali Padda, then Chief Operating Officer of the Lego Group (left) in 2014, with then Lego Group Owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and then CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp Matt Alexander / PA Archive/PA Images Matt Alexander / PA Archive/PA Images / PA Archive/PA Images

DANISH TOYMAKER LEGO, known for its iconic coloured plastic bricks, has appointed a new chief executive, replacing Briton Bali Padda who held the job for just eight months.

Niels Christiansen, 51, was most recently the head of industrial technology company Danfoss. He will take over the position on 1 October.

Padda, 61, has been a Lego executive for 14 years. He was appointed CEO in December and was always intended to be a temporary boss pending a longer-term replacement, Lego said in a statement.

“The search for a long-term CEO began as soon as Bali was appointed CEO … The perfect candidate appeared sooner than expected by the board, and that is the reason for the transition now,” Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbaek told AFP.

Padda — who was the first non-Dane to head Lego — will stay on in the Lego Brand Group in a special advisory role.

Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, Lego’s chairman who served as CEO for 12 years until last December, told the Financial Times Padda’s short tenure was to do with his age and the likelihood he could only do the job for a few years.

“It isn’t [a humiliation]. He’s definitely not disappointed us. Bali knew that I would immediately look for a successor.

“Both Bali and I thought it would take a long time as it’s not a trivial matter. I was just very fortunate that, relatively early, we found the right person,” Knudstorp said.


Christiansen’s “experience in digitalisation and globalisation, implementing a transformative strategy, and creating an agile, high performing, international team will benefit the Lego Group”, Knudstorp said in a separate statement.

Lego posted record revenues in 2016 — jumping by 6% from 2015 to 37.9 billion kroner (about €5 billion), for a net profit up 2% to over 9.4 billion kroner (about €1.3 billion).

lego Lego toys at Toy Fair in New York earlier this year John Barrett / Zuma Press/PA Images John Barrett / Zuma Press/PA Images / Zuma Press/PA Images

Lego’s colourful toy blocks have proved resilient to the rise of digital devices which is battering the traditional toy industry, but the company has also been adept at using different channels to engage with children.

The group has allowed partners to develop branded video games, a Hollywood blockbuster, television shows and theme parks.

The company has grown over the years, but has remained owned by the family of creator Ole Kirk Kristiansen since it was founded in 1932.

© AFP 2017, with reporting from Órla Ryan

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