The Acushnet Company – Fortune Brands’ golf business – announced today that it has sold the Cobra Golf Company to Puma AG. The sale includes the Cobra brand, all related inventory, intellectual property and its endorsement contracts. Cobra’s list of professional staff includes Camilo Villegas, J.B. Holmes, Ian Poulter, Jason Gore and David Feherty. Cobra Golf has had a great year so far, with Ian Poulter winning the Accenture Match Play Championship, Camilo Villegas winning the Honda Classic and finishing third at the Match Play, and J.B. Holmes has started his year with 2 top three finishes so far.
Acushnet plans to continue to provide services for an agreed upon period of time beyond the sale to facilitate the seamless transition as Puma breaks into the golf industry on the equipment side. Production, distribution, field sales and customer service will continue with the help of Acushnet for a time, until Puma has gotten up to speed.
“With the sale of Cobra, we have the opportunity to devote all of our resources to the global growth of our industry-leading Titleist and FootJoy brands,” said Wally Uihlein, Chairman and CEO of Acushnet Company. “At the same time, Cobra is a strong brand with a heritage of innovation, and we wish the quality associates guiding the brand future success. Golfers and our valued partners will remain the key focus throughout the impending sale and we are confident that our customers will continue to be serviced to our high standards.”
Pending regulatory approval, the date of the sale is expected to be early in the second quarter of 2010, and all Cobra Golf business will be conducted by Acushnet Company until that time. All Acushnet Company associates dedicated to the Cobra business are expected to become employees of PUMA. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Based in Carlsbad, California and founded in 1973, Cobra Golf produced one of the first utility clubs – the Baffler – long before use of such hybrid clubs became popular. Cobra’s innovation continues today with recent releases such as the new ZL and S2 Drivers, as well as the Baffler Rail Hybrid. In 1996 Cobra Golf was acquired by Fortune Brands and has since then been managed together under the Acushnet Company umbrella with its other golf brands.
“Titleist and FootJoy are powerful golf brands that are poised for long-term growth,” continued Uihlein. “This laser focus and our longstanding commitment to deliver superior performance and quality will strengthen golfers’ trust in the Titleist and FootJoy brands in all global markets.”
The most prominent Puma spokesman is Rickie Fowler, who has sported Puma’s apparel on the PGA Tour for only a few tournaments but is already making a mark, not only with the flashy style (or lack thereof) but with his great play, earning several top 5 finishes in his young professional career. One has to wonder if Rickie will be encouraged to move from Titleist brand equipment (Owned by Acushnet) to the newly acquired Cobra Golf. It will also be interesting to see what happens with the Cobra Golf brand. Will Puma rebrand Cobra equipment as its own or retain the well known and respected Cobra brand clubs?
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