Titleist Golf Unit Said to Contact Banks for Possible U.S. IPO

Titleist Golf's Parent Said to Seek U.S. IPO
  • Listing could come next year and value company at $2 billion
  • Parent Acushnet bought by Fila Korea in 2011 for $1.23 billion

Acushnet Co., the maker of Titleist golf equipment, is talking to banks about a possible initial public offering in the U.S., people with knowledge of the matter said.

The company is soliciting pitches from a number of banks for the IPO, which could take place next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Acushnet could fetch a valuation of about $2 billion, according to the people. The size and timing haven’t been decided and could change, the people said.

In 2011, Fortune Brands Inc. sold the Titleist golf unit to a group led by Fila Korea Ltd., the owner of the Fila sport apparel brand, and Mirae Asset Private Equity for $1.23 billion.

“As a matter of policy, we do not respond to questions or speculation 
regarding strategic matters, including the capital structure of the 
company,” said Joe Gomes, a spokesman for Fairhaven, Massachusetts-based Acushnet.

Fewer Golfers

Golf equipment is an $8.7 billion industry globally, with the U.S. making up 41 percent of the market, according to the World Golf Report 2015, put out by Florida-based Golf Datatech LLC and Japan’s Yano Research Institute Ltd. Japan is second, with 24 percent, and South Korea is third with 7.1 percent.

A public listing would come at a tumultuous time for the sport. In the U.S., participation has declined every year from 2003 to 2014, according to data compiled by the National Golf Foundation. There were 24.7 million golfers in the U.S. in 2014, the fewest since 1996.

That change in participation -- fueled by current players getting older, while 20- and 30-year-olds aren’t as attracted to the sport -- has led to declining sales. Adidas AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Hainer announced in August that the company will seek buyers for some or all of its TaylorMade golf brand business, which posted a sales drop of 32 percent from 2012 to 2014.

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