• Activist shareholder said to be pushing for break-up
  • In talks with company
  • Diageo, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard wait in the wings
Diageo, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard may swoop for Beam Global Spirits & Wine drinks

Diageo, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard may swoop for Beam Global Spirits & Wine drinks

The owner of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Fortune Brands, is facing pressure from an activist shareholder to split and sell its drinks, golf and home businesses, according to a report.

Shareholder Bill Ackman, who has acquired an 11% stake in Fortune Brands, is pushing the group's management for a break-up, according to a report in the New York Post published late last week. The paper cited sources close to the talks as saying that Fortune has so far resisted pressure from Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management acquired its 11% stake in Fortune in early October.

Analysts have previously questioned Fortune's ability to juggle drinks, golf and home business divisions.

It is thought that several drinks companies would be interested in plundering Fortune's Beam Global division, which includes Maker's Mark and Jim Beam Bourbons, Sauza Tequila, Courvoisier Cognac and Laphroaig Scotch whisky.

Diageo, Bacardi and Pernod Ricard have all been cited as potential suitors for some of the brands. It is thought that competition regulations would prevent one multinational drinks group from acquiring the entire Beam Global portfolio.

"We believe Diageo may either try to cherry pick brands in any break-up, eg Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, or seek to acquire the business in combination with another player (eg private equity/Bacardi/Pernod Ricard) and then split the assets," said analyst group Evolution Securities in a note today (15 November).