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Fortune Brands Sells Titleist Golf Unit for $1.23 Billion

Glenn Messier inspects golf balls during their manufacture at the Titleist manufacturing plant in Acushnet, Massachusetts. Photographer: Michael Fein/Bloomberg
Glenn Messier inspects golf balls during their manufacture at the Titleist manufacturing plant in Acushnet, Massachusetts. Photographer: Michael Fein/Bloomberg

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Fortune Brands Inc. agreed to sell its Titleist golf unit to a group led by the owner of the Fila sport apparel brand for $1.23 billion in cash, as part of its strategy to focus on liquor.

Fortune Brands will realize proceeds of about $1.1 billion after taxes and expenses from the sale of the Acushnet business, which makes Titleist balls, according to a statement from the Deerfield, Illinois-based company. The deal is expected to close this year, it said.

The sale is part of Fortune Brands Chief Executive Officer Bruce Carbonari’s plan to dispose of the company’s golf and home and security businesses by the fourth quarter. Fortune, the maker of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon, Sauza tequila and Courvoisier cognac, said it plans to rename itself Beam.

“This is obviously an important first step for Fortune,” said Jonathan Rouner, head of mergers and acquisitions for the Americas at Nomura Holdings Inc., which advised Fila.

Fortune has announced it will divest the home and security business. “A spinoff would allow shareholders to share in the upside of the business, which is tied to the housing market, as the economy recovers,” Rouner said today in a telephone interview.

In addition to Titleist golf balls, Acushnet makes high-performance golf clubs and owns the FootJoy golf shoe and glove brand. Its sales exceeded $1.2 billion in 2010, with almost half of its revenue generated in markets outside the U.S.

Fortune Brands fell $1.01, or 1.6 percent, to $63.88 at 4:03 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have climbed 6 percent this year.

Leisure Footwear

Established in Italy in 1911, Fila is a leading sport and leisure footwear and apparel brand that’s distributed worldwide. The group purchasing Acushnet, which is led by Fila Korea Ltd. and Mirae Asset Private Equity, also includes the National Pension Service of Korea, the fourth-largest pension fund in the world, and Korea Development Bank, Korea’s largest government-owned bank.

“Fila and Mirae emphasized growth in Asia to deliver a winning bid,” said Gregg Fatzinger, who heads Nomura’s consumer and retail investment banking practice.

Golf has “been growing at double digits even during the recession,” he said.

Fortune announced Dec. 8 that it would split into three separate businesses and focus on distilled spirits after activist investor William Ackman acquired a stake.

Its home unit, whose products include Moen faucets and Master Lock padlocks, accounted for $3.23 billion in sales in 2010, compared with $2.67 billion for spirits.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cotten Timberlake in Washington at ctimberlake@bloomberg.net; Lauren Coleman-Lochner in New York at llochner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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