Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO) has announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously approved in principle a separation of the company’s three strong consumer businesses – distilled spirits, home and security, and golf products.
The plan that the company intends to pursue includes: the continuation of Fortune Brands as an independent, publicly-traded company focused solely on its distilled spirits business; the tax-free spin-off to shareholders of the home and security business into an independent, publicly-traded company; and the sale or tax-free spin-off of the golf business.
Each business has leading consumer brands and excellent growth and returns potential, and is now very well positioned to create significant value for shareholders on its own.
The Acushnet Company is the longest running and strongest golf industry success story, and has been very successful as part of the Fortune Brands family. Acushnet is currently the largest and most profitable golf equipment company in the world. With annual sales of $1.2 billion, Acushnet Company includes Titleist, the #1 ball in golf, and FootJoy, the #1 shoe and glove in golf. Titleist is also a leader in high-performance golf clubs, and FootJoy is growing strongly in the performance outerwear category, where it has become the industry leader. New product innovations, including successive generations of the Pro V1 golf ball, and investments in high-growth international markets, have enabled Acushnet to consistently outperform the market on growth and returns.
“The strength of the Acushnet Company as the undisputed global leader in the golf category, and confidence in our growth prospects, were factors contributing to the Board’s decision,” commented Acushnet CEO, Wally Uihlein. “Whether the Acushnet Company is sold to a new owner or becomes an independent publicly-traded company, our focus will be to keep on doing what’s made us the leader in our industry – the delivery of best-in-class products and service to our customers and golf consumers. We look forward to building on our track record of delivering performance and quality superior golf products to serious golfers worldwide.”
The Acushnet Company has a history of successful growth and evolution, even in times of change. Acushnet was founded in 1910 and in 1935 the first Titleist golf ball was brought to market. Fortune Brands acquired the Acushnet Company in 1976, and Acushnet acquired FootJoy in 1985. Acushnet Company’s net sales in 1975 were $51 million and in 2009 had grown to more than twenty-fold that number. Over the past 75 years, the Titleist golf ball has become golf’s standard of excellence, while FootJoy has developed number one positions in the shoe, glove, sock and now outerwear categories.
“Throughout the history of both brands – and the products and people that are the essence of the brands – there have been any number of challenges and new opportunities, and there have always been shareholders that the business has been accountable to. We have a strong history of rising to those challenges and taking advantage of those opportunities, while fulfilling our commitment to our shareholders,” continued Uihlein.
“With our industry leadership, our strong and unique culture, and our talented team, we look forward to a successful transition to new ownership and building the bridge to the next chapter in Acushnet Company’s accomplished history.”
The Fortune Brand’s Board has directed management to develop detailed separation plans for consideration and final approval by the Board. Fortune Brands expects to complete development of these plans – including the structure, timing, and other related matters for each business – within the next several months.
Fortune Brands www.fortunebrands.com
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