This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
New York • Consumer products maker Fortune Brands Inc. plans to split into three companies, keeping its liquor business, led by Jim Beam bourbon, while shedding the units that make Titleist golf balls, Moen faucets and Master Locks.
Fortune Brands said Wednesday it will focus on its spirits business, which generates annual revenue of $2.5 billion and also includes brands such as Canadian Club and Maker's Mark.
The home and security business, which also includes MasterBrand cabinets, will be spun off on a tax-free basis to shareholders. Fortune's golf business, Acushnet, which makes Titleist golf equipment and FootJoy golf shoes and gloves, will be either spun off or sold.
The announcement comes two months after activist investor William Ackman took an 11 percent stake in the company, becoming its largest shareholder.
Fortune Brands said it expects to complete separation planning within several months. The separation is subject to conditions, including regulatory approvals.
Fortune Brands was incorporated in 1985 but has its roots in the 19th century American Tobacco Co. It had sold off its tobacco businesses by 1997.
Analysts had long argued that the company could unlock the value of its businesses by turning them into separate entities.
Morgan Stanley analyst Dara Mohsenian said a split had been expected since Ackman took his stake.
But Morningstar analyst Philip Gorman said the timing of the news, so soon after Ackman's disclosure, suggests the company may have already been considering the move.
Fortune Brands' shares finished Wednesday up 59 cents at $61.74.