Titleist Involved in USD1.2bn Golf Business Sale to Fila

May 23, 2011

Fortune Brands golf business, which included the Titleist equipment brand, has been sold to Korean investors led by Fila Korea, for US$1.2bn as part of Fortune’s strategy to focus purely on its drinks business, led by its Jim Beam whisky brand.

The Acushnet golf unit made $80m operating income last year, though the sale price is still higher than had been expected with Fila Korea, which bought the Italian sportswear brand in 2007, plans rapid growth for the golf line in Asia.

Gene Yoon, the firm’s chief executive, stated: “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.”

Korea’s largest private equity fund, Mirae Asset Private Equity, were also involved in the acquisition which saw the Koreans beat a rival bid said to have been mounted by private equity firm Blackstone and Callaway Golf.

In response to pressure from key shareholder William Ackmann, Fortune Brands announced last year that it would spin off its gold and home security businesses to focus purely on drinks. Acushnet made revenues of $1.2bn in 2010 – more than half of it in the US – compared with the $2.7bn made by Fortune’s alcoholic beverages line.

Fortune boss Bruce Carbonari added: “This transaction is a very important milestone as we execute our proposed plan to separate our three strong businesses for the purpose of maximising long-term value for out shareholders.”