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News Briefs for July 29, 2011

July 29, 2011

•Diageo’s Crown Royal has announced it will officially sponsor the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race, called the Crown Royal “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard, is an offshoot of Crown Royal’s “Your Name Here” program, but will honor all types of the nation’s unsung heroes instead of just those with recent military service. One winner will be given the reins to their very own race, where they will get naming rights to the Crown Royal “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400. Diageo announced just weeks ago that it will end Crown Royal’s participation as a Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR team sponsor at the end of the 2011 season to focus more on the “Your Name Here” program.

•Morton’s Restaurant Group posted a 10.7% revenue increase in its second quarter ended July 3, to $78 million. Morton’s also saw an increase in same-store sales in the quarter, marking its sixth consecutive growth quarter, reporting an 8.2% increase year-on-year. The group owns and operates 78 Morton’s The Steakhouse restaurants across the country and internationally. Each location offers a selection of at least 200 different wines, a beer selection that features vintage brews and ultra-premium crafts, and a full-service bar.

•Australian brewer Foster’s Group Ltd. has publicly defended its recent rejection of SABMiller’s $10.4 billion takeover bid, explaining that the bid was too low to take into consideration. Reuters reported that Foster’s chief executive John Pollaers told analysts and shareholders that although the amount was significantly below expectations, Foster’s would remain open to future bids from SABMiller. Meanwhile, Foster’s has rebranded its Carlton & United Breweries beer unit, calling it Carlton United Brewers (CUB), redesigning its logo and introducing a new brand slogan, “Raised in Friendship.” The changes are part of a Foster’s strategy to reinvigorate its domestic beer business, whose Victoria Bitter, Crown and Pure Blonde labels have suffered from soft, below-cost sales and a shrinking market share in recent years. CUB’s volumes fell 5.8% in the last half of 2010, compared to the 7% drop of Australia’s overall beer market.

Brown-Forman’s Bill Street has retired from the company’s board of directors after serving as a company director for 40 years. Street, who is currently chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, had a long a distinguished career at Brown-Forman. He was president of Brown-Forman Corporation when he retired from active management in 2003, having held numerous top executive positions at Brown-Forman during his long career. At the group’s annual stockholders meeting yesterday, chairman of the board of directors Garvin Brown thanked Street for his service as a Brown-Forman executive and board member, as well as his continuing presence as a long-term shareholder.

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