Fortune Brands has said that the sale of its wine business to Constellation Brands will allow the company to focus on the "higher return premium spirits segment".

The US company, which owns Beam Global Spirits & Wine, confirmed today (12 November) that it was selling its wine business to Constellation for US$885m.

Speaking to just-drinks today, a spokesperson for Fortune said the Beam unit will now concentrate solely on its spirits portfolio.

"This move is in line with our long-term strategic focus," the spokesperson said. "We will now be able to more intensely focus on the spirits side, where the returns are higher.

"This enhances our financial flexibility to create better value through higher returns."

In a statement, Fortune's chairman and CEO, Norm Wesley, said: "Given the combination of the future capital requirements for our wine business, its lower returns relative to spirits, and significant interest from potential buyers, we believe this is the right move for long-term shareholder value."

The spokesperson highlighted that there had been "multiple offers" for the wine business, but declined to name the unsuccessful parties.

Fortune has "no current plans" to change the name of the Beam unit, the spokesperson noted, as Beam will continue to hold the Harveys Sherry and Cockburn Port, brands, both of which are fortified wines.