Fortune Brands to sell or spin off the Acushnet Co

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FAIRHAVEN, Mass. – The Acushnet Co., comprised of Titleist and FootJoy brands, announced Wednesday that the Board of Directors of its parent company, Fortune Brands, has approved in principle a separation of Fortune Brand’s three businesses in hopes to maximize longterm value for shareholders. The plan would result in: the continuation of Fortune Brands as an independent, publicly-traded spirits company; 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 Acushnet Co.

“The strength of the Acushnet Co. as the undisputed global leader in the golf category, and confidence in our growth prospects, were factors contributing to the board’s decision,” Acushnet CEO, Wally Uihlein said. “Whether the Acushnet Co. 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.”

Acushnet was founded in 1910 and in 1935 the first Titleist golf ball was brought to market. Fortune Brands acquired the Acushnet Co. 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.

“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,” Uihlein said.

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.