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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Buyout firms circle Fortune Brands' home unit-sources, (NYSE: FO), (NYSE: BX)

Several major private equity firms are considering buying Fortune Brands'(FO.N) home products unit after the company announced plans to spin off the $3 billion division, five people familiar with the matter said. Some of the large buyout firms, including Blackstone Group (BX.N) and Bain Capital, are studying the potential of either making offers for the entire unit or acquiring a stake in the business as part of the planned spin-off, the people said. Such considerations are at a preliminary stage and it is unclear if Fortune would be interested in selling to buyout firms, which would incur heavy taxes, as opposed to a tax-free spinoff, the people said. Varying views on the pace of recovery in the economy and the battered U.S. housing sector in particular also could make the valuation exercise difficult for private equity firms, the people said. They were not authorized to speak with the media and asked not to be named.