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Vowing to step back, Blank hires CEO from Mercedes-Benz

Arthur Blank’s stated desire to step back from the day-to-day operations of his businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons, has led him to hire the head of Mercedes-Benz USA to assume many of the owner’s current responsibilities.

Blank announced Monday that Stephen Cannon, currently the president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz USA, has been named CEO of AMB Group, the parent company of the Falcons, the Atlanta United soccer team and Blank’s other businesses.

Cannon will assume day-to-day leadership of Blank’s for-profit businesses on Feb. 1.

Blank will remain chairman and owner, “working closely with Cannon on overall strategy,” according to the announcement.

Blank first told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in August of his plan to step back and hire a CEO.

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Interestingly, he hired the man with whom the Falcons earlier this year reached a naming-rights deal for their new stadium slated to open in 2017, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

In Monday’s announcement, Blank said the hiring of Cannon fulfills his desire to step back from day-to-day operations of his businesses.

“While I will always be heavily involved in our business strategies, I now feel that the best role I can play in our businesses is one of founder, chairman and most senior cheerleader,” Blank said. “I have a strong desire to spend more quality time with my family, as well as to concentrate more of my time on our philanthropic endeavors, and Steve’s hiring will allow me to do those things.”

Cannon has been president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) since 2012.

Under the new structure, Falcons president Rich McKay, Atlanta United president Darren Eales and PGA Tour Superstore president Dick Sullivan will report to Cannon. Falcons coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff will continue to report directly to Blank. This is consistent with the planned structure that Blank outlined to the AJC in the August interview.

“This is a truly special opportunity for me to move from an iconic brand that I love to a role working with an iconic leader and the diversified Blank Family of Businesses,” Cannon said in a statement. “I made an immediate connection with Arthur because we have very similar value systems and a shared vision for what the customer experience can and should be.”

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