Fortune is making "excellent progress" on work to split its business

Fortune is making "excellent progress" on work to split its business

Fortune Brands has said that its plan to establish Beam Global Spirits & Wine as a standalone business in the second half of 2011 is on-track.

Following the move, Fortune will rename the division Beam Inc to reflect its flagship brand, Jim Beam Bourbon. "The corporate name change reflects the company's intended pure focus on distilled spirits," Fortune's CEO, Bruce Carbonari, told the group's shareholders at its annual general meeting yesterday (26 April).

Fortune is making "excellent progress" on work to split its business, Carbonari said. As part of the plan, the group's golf and home businesses will be spun-off, or sold, leaving Beam Global as a standalone business.

"We're continuing to target completing this process in the second half of 2011," Carbonari said.

Several analysts have predicted that Beam Global will attract takeover offers, with Diageo and Bacardi mooted as possible frontrunners. However, Beam's broad portfolio, including Bourbon, Sauza Tequila, Courvoisier Cognac and Teacher's Scotch whisky, means that competition concerns are likely to prevent a single multinational from acquiring the entire unit.

"We believe that each of these businesses is very well positioned to create significant value for shareholders," Carbonari told shareholders.

Earlier this month, Beam's CEO, Matt Shattock, dismissed the likelihood of an auction process for Beam being more a case of when, and not if. "We are committed and we believe we have a bright and long future as a standalone pure-play spirits company," he said in an exclusive interview with just-drinks.

Beam Inc is set to be the world's fourth largest premium spirits company by net sales. Fortune's separation plan remains subject to final board and regulatory approvals.