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Titleist golf headed to Korea for $1.2 billion

Fortune Brands Inc. sells off golf business to increase booze sales


May 20, 2011
by The Canadian Press

DEERFIELD, Ill—Fortune Brands Inc. has announced it is selling its unit that makes Titleist golf balls and equipment to Korean investors, including Fila Korea Ltd., for $1.2 billion.

The deal includes Fortune’s Acushnet Co., a designer and manufacturer of golf clubs, the industry’s top selling golf ball under its Titleist brand and the Footjoy brand of golf shoes.

The Acushnet unit’s revenue exceeded $1.2 billion in 2010, with nearly half of that coming outside the U.S., the company said. Operating income before charges was $80 million last year, it said.

Gene Yoon, chairman and CEO of Fila Korea, said the acquisition will add “a stable of premiere world-class brands.”

“With our extensive knowledge and reach in Asia, we believe that the Acushnet brands have incredible new opportunity for growth in the emerging markets in Asia,” he said.

Fortune expects to reap $1.1 billion after taxes and expenses when the deal closes this summer.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based company announced last year it was splitting into three companies, keeping its Jim Bean bourbon business while shedding its Titleist, Moen faucets and Master Locks brands.

Fortune is the world’s fourth-largest premium spirits business with brands that also include Canadian Club, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Sauza tequila. The spirits business from its Beam Global Spirits & Wine subsidiary generated 2010 revenue of $2.7 billion in 2010.

The group buying the golf brands is led by Fila Korea and Mirae Asset Private Equity, Korea’s largest private equity firm.