The Hippest Cat in France

JEAN-MARC LUBRANO / RAPHO for TIME

ON THE BALL: Airness founder Koné hopes to make his panther logo a global icon

French businessman malamine Koné is talking a very big game. The 34-year-old founder and ceo of sportswearmaker Airness is explaining his goal of boosting his company's 2005 sales of $150 million — mostly in France — to rival global giant Nike's some $14 billion. Sound a touch fanciful? Don't tell Koné. "You know where Puma was five years ago? Deeply troubled," Koné says of the now-thriving German-American sportswear group, whose own sales last year exceeded $2 billion. "And six years ago, Airness scarcely existed. We didn't get this far this fast worrying about what we supposedly can't...

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