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Adidas joins European-led effort on Bangladesh factories

(Reuters) - Sporting goods maker Adidas AG has signed a pact to promote the safety of garment workers in Bangladesh, picking a European-led initiative over a rival U.S. drive, it said on Tuesday.

Adidas said although it had only limited production in Bangladesh, it thought that signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh would complement its own monitoring efforts in the country.

Adidas' move could put pressure on other clothing companies to press for improved factory conditions after more than 1,100 workers were killed in the collapse of a Bangladesh garment plant in April, the largest in a string of deadly incidents in the country.

In response, a number of European retailers and union groups began the Accord, aiming to improve safety with steps like independent inspections of facilities and public reporting.

Others - including U.S. companies like Wal-Mart Stores Inc - created the separate Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Proponents of the Accord say it is the stronger of the two approaches because it would commit companies over a longer period and include binding arbitration if disputes arise.

Adidas, which makes sports shoes, clothing and equipment, said it had decided in favor of the European-led Accord because of the way it involved multiple parties, including workers.

"What we find particularly attractive is the Accord's multi-stakeholder format, its commitment to support and involve workers in addressing factory safety, and its commitment to transparency," Adidas executive Frank Henke said in a statement.

Adidas rival Puma SE had already signed on to the Accord.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Germany; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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