Professor Mike Lord Discusses Spinoff of Fortune Brands Home & Security

6.11.2011 Article, Faculty News, Retail

2 Hanesbrands officials leaving together
Reposted from Winston-Salem Journal | by Richard Craver

It didn't take Lee Wyatt, the No. 2 executive at Hanesbrands Inc., long to find another challenge for his spinoff talents, and he's taking another company official along with him.

Wyatt was named Friday as chief financial officer for Fortune Brands Home & Security, currently an operating unit of Fortune Brands Inc. The unit also said Brian Lantz has been hired as vice president for investor relations.

Wyatt and Lantz took management roles with Hanesbrands around the time it was spinning off from Sara Lee Corp. in September 2006. Wyatt's departure as chief financial officer was announced May 12. He was expected to have stayed until June 30.

The home and security side of Fortune Brands is in the regulatory process of being spun out as an independent, publicly traded company. It will have four segments: kitchen and bath cabinetry, plumbing and accessories, advanced material windows and door systems, and security and storage.

Fortune Brands also is selling its Acushnet golf business and plans to focus on being a spirits company, selling such brands as Jim Beam bourbon, Courvoisier cognac and Sauza tequila.

The company announced its separation plans in December.

"Lee Wyatt is a talented and proven leader who is a terrific fit for Fortune Brands Home & Security," said Chris Klein, the president and chief executive of the company.

"As chief financial officer at Hanesbrands, Lee helped guide the company through its spinoff from Sara Lee, built a strong finance organization and was instrumental in building Hanesbrands' reputation on Wall Street."

Hanesbrands said May 12 that Dale Boyles, its controller and chief accounting officer, would take over as chief financial officer on an interim basis. Matt Hall, a company spokesman, said Boyles will be considered as a candidate but the company plans to conduct a search.

Hanesbrands could not be reached for comment on its plans for replacing Lantz, who was vice president of investor relations.

Fortune Brands' spinoff plans are similar to what has happened at Sara Lee, said Michael Lord, an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University.

"A large, very diversified conglomerate splits into several much more focused businesses," Lord said. "Often these splits make good sense, and they also often perform well."

Lord said that the skills necessary to successfully execute a spinoff "are rare and valuable, so it's not surprising" that Wyatt and Lantz are going to Fortune Brands.

"Finance and investor relations are critically important to successfully executing a spinoff, especially of a publicly held company.

"Companies have their own life cycles and phases, and so do executives," Lord said. "Sometimes they remain in sync, but other times they choose to move on."

Wyatt made $650,000 in salary last year at Hanesbrands and received $1.82 million in nonequity, incentive-plan compensation.

Analysts have said Hanesbrands should have a smooth transition in the position.