Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fortune Brands to Become Beam Inc.

At the Fortune Brands (NYSE: FO) annual meeting of shareholders today, chairman and chief executive officer Bruce Carbonari gave a status report on the company’s plan to become a pure-play spirits business. He also announced that, assuming completion of the separation, Fortune Brands will operate under a new name: Beam Inc. The name is derived from the current name of the spirits unit, Beam Global Spirits & Wine, and its flagship Jim Beam brand.

The plan to break-up Fortune was announced back in December. I wrote about it here.

Since then, most Wall Street commentators have assumed that the pure-play spirits company will be quickly acquired by Diageo or one of the other bigger players. When the separation is complete, Beam Inc. will be the world’s fourth-largest premium spirits business and the largest U.S.-based spirits company.

Beam's portfolio includes Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Sauza, Courvoisier, Canadian Club and Teacher’s. As previously announced, Matt Shattock will continue to lead Beam as president and chief executive officer of the company.

They still expect the separation to be completed in the second half of 2011.

Assuming completion of the spin-off, the Fortune Brands Home & Security unit will retain its name and be the only company associated with the Fortune Brands name once it is spun off and becomes an independent publicly-traded company.

The company is also exploring the potential sale or spin-off of its Acushnet Company golf business.

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