US: Beam Inc hits back at Sidney Frank lawsuit

By | 4 March 2013

Beam says it will prevail

Beam says it will prevail

Beam Inc is “confident” of victory in a legal battle with Sidney Frank after the US importer filed a lawsuit against the global group and a subsidiary for US$100m. 

According to reports on Friday (1 March), Sidney Frank claimed in documents filed at a Manhattan court that Beam denied it access to Michael Collins Irish Whiskey after Beam bought the brand's owner, Cooley Distillery. Sidney Franks said it had an outstanding contract with Cooley to distribute the whiskey, Bloomberg reported.

However, in an emailed statement to just-drinks today, Beam said: “We have been in commercial discussions with Sidney Frank regarding this matter and while we don’t discuss the details of matters in litigation, we are confident in our position and that we will prevail.”

New York-based Sidney Frank claims Beam was trying to suppress sales of private-label whiskeys so its Kilbeggan brand could challenge Pernod Ricard's category leader Jamesons, it was reported.

Sidney Frank lodged its claim at the US District Court in Manhattan on Friday. The importer is suing Beam and Cooley for breach of contract, unfair competition and tortious interference with the importer’s business relationships with distributors throughout the US, Bloomberg said.

Beam closed its purchase of Cooley, for US$95m, in January last year.

Expert analysis

Beam Inc. (BEAM) - Financial and Strategic SWOT Analysis Review

Beam Inc. (Beam), formerly known as Fortune Brands, Inc, is a premium spirits company. The company offers branded distilled spirits products. The product portfolio of the company consists of bourbon whiskey, Scotch whisky, Canadian whisky, tequila, cognac, rum, cordials, and ready-to-drink pre-mixed cocktails. The renowned brands offered by the company include Jim Beam Bourbon, Canadian Club Whisky, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Sauza Tequila, Courvoisier Cognac, Teacher’s Scotch, Laphroaig Scotch, Knob Creek Bourbon, Cruzan Rum, Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, Hornitos Tequila, Skinnygirl Cocktails, EFFEN Vodka, Pucker Vodka and Sourz Liqueurs among others. The company’s major markets includes North America, Australia and Europe, and also maintains presence in the markets of India, Brazil, Russia, Central Europe, Asia, and other geographies. The company is headquartered in Illinois, the US. The company is expanding its operations as evident from its recent acquisition related agreement with White Rock Distilleries to acquire the fast-growing Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack rum brands and other related assets for $605m in cash.

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Beam Inc, Cooley, Pernod, Ricard

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