Would-be Finish Line exec named Genesco CEO

The executive who would have become president of The Finish Line Inc. if the Indianapolis company had closed on its purchase of Genesco Inc. has been promoted to Genesco CEO.

Robert J. Dennis, 54, will add the CEO title to his existing post of president of the Nashville, Tenn., retailer come Aug. 1. He replaces Hal Pennington, who will become executive chairman.

Dennis was CEO of Hat World Corp. when the Indianapolis-based hat retailer was acquired by Genesco in 2004.

Finish Line announced a year ago that it would buy Genesco in a highly leveraged $1.5 billion deal; Then, as credit markets tightened, Finish Line and its bank began wriggling out of the deal.

Finish Line’s Swiss-based bank, UBS, said it wouldn’t close on financing until it could gain a better understanding of Genesco’s weakening financial condition.

After Genesco sued to try to force Finish Line to close the deal, Finish Line agreed to settle by paying Genesco $39 million in cash and 6.5 million shares of stock. Finish Line took an $81.5-million charge in its fiscal fourth quarter due to costs of the exit.

Finish Line announced in July 2007 that Dennis would become president after the deal closed and have oversight of all divisions, including Finish Line, Hat World and Man Alive.

Genesco has 2,175 stores in the United States and Canada, primarily under the names Cap Connection, Hat World, Hat Shack, Hat Zone, Head Quarters, Lids, Journeys, Johnston & Murphy and Underground Station.

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