Tag: George Garvin Brown

Documents reveal a legal latticework shielding the Brown family’s $6 billion whiskey fortune

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

When Brown-Forman stockholders gathered in July at the whiskey giant’s Georgian Revival headquarters west of downtown, the outcome of a crucial vote — re-electing 12 directors to the governing board — was anything but a surprise.

This has been the founding Brown family’s company for nearly 150 years. Six of the directors were Browns, including board Chairman George Garvin Brown IV — a great-great grandson of the founder — and the rest were unquestionably family loyalists.

Stockholders outside the family knew what Brown-Forman has disclosed for years in an annual statement soliciting their votes: 13 individual Browns and family groups hold 67% of all the voting shares in “a variety of family trusts and entities, with multiple family members often sharing voting control and investment power.”

Much less has been known about the scope of those entities, leaving more than 5,600 other stockholders in the dark about exactly how the Browns divvy up nearly $6 billion in shares among a core group of relatives.

George Garvin Brown
Founder Brown.

But now, documents filed by the Browns with the Securities and Exchange Commission detail how complex their ownership has grown since the pharmaceuticals salesman George Garvin Brown founded the company in 1870. They shed light on how the Browns have deployed extensive trust accounts, business partnerships, and other legal vehicles to pass down Brown-Forman stock through six generations. That’s an exceptional legacy in American business: Just 12% of family-owned companies survive into the third generation, and a slim 3% survive to the fourth and beyond.

The documents also point to a network of boutique consulting firms and other white-shoe professionals advising the city’s wealthiest families on everything from investments to taxes and charitable giving, hiring housekeepers and gardeners — even organizing vacation travel and family gatherings. Paid tens of thousands of dollars a year in fees, the firms are the backbone of a larger, multibillion-dollar economy serving the area’s uber-rich.

george-garvin-brown-to-laura-frazier-contact-sheet-450
Clockwise from top left: Garvin Brown IV, Campbell Brown, Christy Brown, Laura Frazier, Sandra Frazier and Mac Brown.

The documents were filed over the past 18 months by Continue reading “Documents reveal a legal latticework shielding the Brown family’s $6 billion whiskey fortune”

Happy 170th, George Garvin Brown!

George Garvin Brown
The jolly good fellow.

Today’s the Brown-Forman founder’s birthday. Born in Munfordville, Ky., on Sept. 2, 1846, Brown moved to Louisville in 1862, where he attended Male High School. He worked as a pharmaceuticals salesman until starting the future whiskey giant in 1870 with the original Old Forester brand, when he was 24 years old. Brown married Amelia Bryant Owsley in 1876, and they had two children, Owsley and Robinson. George died Jan. 24, 1917 and is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

His death at age 70 was front-page news the following day in The Courier-Journal:

George Garvin Brown obituary

Related: With this year’s batch of commemorative Birthday Bourbon, there’s more to celebrate than ever.

Yum agrees to sell $464M stake in China unit ahead of spinoff; Haier to brand cooktops and ovens in U.K.; plus more (possibly) bad news about the (allegedly) leaked KFC recipe

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 8:41 a.m.

YUM has agreed to an advance sale of a $464 million slice of its China operations to a prominent Chinese deal maker and the financial affiliate of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba. The deal announced this morning is with Primavera Capital and Ant Financial Services Group. They will buy the shares at an 8% discount to the average price at which Yum China’s shares trade between 31 and 60 days after they’re distributed to Yum shareholders in a spinoff expected by Oct. 31. Yum China will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange as an independent company on Nov. 1 under the ticker symbol “YUMC.”

Greg Creed
Creed

Louisville-based Yum also announced Primavera founder Dr. Fred Hu, former chairman of Greater China at Goldman Sachs, will become Yum China’s non-executive board chairman. In a statement, Yum CEO Greg Creed said: “The investments from Primavera and Ant Financial in Yum China mark another important milestone in our plans to separate the China business and create a solid foundation for Yum China” (Wall Street Journal and press release).

GE APPLIANCES owner Haier is filling a hole in its product lineup: It will begin to sell Haier-branded gas cooktops, induction cooktops and ovens in the U.K., beginning next year. China-based Haier hasn’t yet released prices or dates when they might appear in other countries, however. Haier bought Louisville-based GE Appliances for $5.6 billion in June, in a bid to gain a stronger presence in the U.S., where it has only 1.1% of the appliance market. The Louisville company employs 6,000 workers at Appliance Park in the south end (CNET).

KFC: YouTube vlogger Hellthy Junk Food has done a blind taste taste of real KFC fried chicken vs. that purportedly leaked super-secret recipe of 11 herbs and spaces founder Harlan Sanders created. Posted Tuesday, the video’d results have already drawn 75,000 views — and they don’t bode well for the chain:

BROWN-FORMAN: Financial news site Seeking Alpha  Continue reading “Yum agrees to sell $464M stake in China unit ahead of spinoff; Haier to brand cooktops and ovens in U.K.; plus more (possibly) bad news about the (allegedly) leaked KFC recipe”

Soft and creamy: This master’s description of a special bourbon hitting stores next month sounds like classic food porn

“It starts off as soft butterscotch with candied orange peel. It transitions into a creamy vanilla in the middle and finishes with subtle anise and moderate spice. It’s like eating black jelly beans in the middle of an orange grove.”

— Jackie Zykan, Old Forester master bourbon specialist, describing the 2016 Birthday Bourbon commemorating Brown-Forman founder George Garvin Brown‘s birth going on sale next month.

Here are his additional notes: color, deep reddish umber; nose, complex and cinnamon, wood-spiced with nutty chocolate, dark caramel and rich oak notes all brightened with a dash of crisp citrus fruit; taste, mulled spice sweetness and fruity with bright citrus peel highlights; finish, long and warm with mulled fruit character lingering on.

(Ironically in a Sam Malone of “Cheers” way, Boulevard Publisher Jim Hopkins doesn’t drink alcohol.)

KFC is bubbling over with ideas — a gravy fountain, for one; 170 years later, there’s more to toast than ever Sept. 2; and Haier and GE Appliances union prep for contract talks

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 12:29 p.m.

KFC sent fans into a food frenzy when its official U.K. and Ireland Twitter account tweeted a photo of its latest invention: the “Gravy fountain of dreams.” Employees at the fast food giant said the fountain is “only at head office for now,” but they’re reportedly trying it out in stores across the Kingdom. No word on whether it will make it across the gravy pond (Mirror). Reaction approached crack-addict levels:

BROWN-FORMAN: This year’s annual batch of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon celebrating founder George Garvin Brown‘s Sept. 2 birth is bigger than usual — 14,400 bottles total, about 1,000 more than last year. Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris, who set aside this year’s batch way back on June 4, 2004, isn’t sure why it’s so much more plentiful. “[It] could be the result of many factors,” he says, “such as the cooperage [barrel and cask makers] made some extra tight barrels that day or we had a lot of slow growth oak in the barrels.” Birthday Bourbon is bottled at 97 proof and has a retail price of $79.99 — $1.2 million if you could somehow round up all of it at once (Men’s Journal).

Birthday Bourbon
Available next month.

How’s it taste? Imagine the food equivalent of a porno movie.

Bottled in a decanter-style glass, the commemorative whiskey was initially launched 15 years ago. “In 2002, when we first introduced Birthday Bourbon, the market for premium Bourbons was almost nonexistent; Birthday Bourbon represented a ‘first’ in this category,” Morris said in a press release. “But 15 years later, global interest for premium Bourbons and well-crafted whiskeys is at a record high.” Each barrel in the Birthday Bourbon selection is drawn from the same day of production; 2016’s totals 93 barrels. It goes on sale nationwide starting next month (press release).

George Garvin Brown
Brown

Brown was born in Munfordville, Ky., on Sept. 2, 1846 — coming up on 170 years ago — and moved to Louisville in 1862, where he attended Male High School. He worked as a pharmaceuticals salesman until starting the company in 1870 with the original Old Forester brand, when he was 24. Brown married Amelia Bryant Owsley in 1876, and they had two children, Owsley and Robinson. George died in 1917 and is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery (Explore Kentucky History).

PIZZA HUT: VentureBeat says Domino’s has beat Pizza Hut to launch a Facebook Messenger bot, but it could be smarter (Venture Beat).

HAIER says the wages of about 4,000 union-represented Appliance Park workers “are not in line with market realities,” as the Chinese conglomerate and labor leaders get ready for next week’s contract talks. They will be the first since China’s Haier bought GE Appliances in June for $5.6 billion (WDRB and Business First).

AMAZON is opening a distribution center in Etna, N.J., on Sept. 14, and has already taken nearly 2,000 applications for a planned 1,500 jobs there. Company officials have said the center could eventually employ 3,000 during peak periods. Construction on the 855,000 square-foot, four-floor center started in mid-2015 (Newark Advocate here and here). Amazon employs 6,000 workers at distribution centers in Jeffersonville and Sherphardsville; more about its Louisville-area operations.

Changing of the family guard: At Brown-Forman’s annual meeting, the ordinary was actually extraordinary

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

George Garvin Brown IV, a great-great grandson of the young pharmaceuticals salesman who started Brown-Forman in 1870, stepped onto a dais at the whiskey giant’s annual stockholders meeting today, and told an amusing story about a subject that might otherwise have been deadly dull: brand loyalty.

Garvin Brown IV
Garvin Brown

It was 9:30 a.m., and several hundred stockholders had assembled in a conference room at the white-collanaded headquarters on Dixie Highway west of downtown. On a classically muggy Louisville summer morning, this was a dressy crowd. Many of the men wore dark suits, crisp white shirts, and boarding school repp ties. Women wore tailored dresses, or smart skirts paired with jackets, and an occasional pearl necklace. People were tan and slim and — in the case of the many Browns there — very, very rich.

This was a business event, but it felt as much like a family reunion, too — because, after all, a core group of Browns control the company through an equity stake worth well north of $6 billion. Garvin Brown, who is 47 and lives mostly in London, was running the meeting as chairman of the board. Seated nearby in Chippendale-style chairs facing the audience were the other 11 directors up for re-election.

This is the story Brown told. He was on a flight from London to Warsaw for a meeting with the Brown-Forman team responsible for the company’s growing business in Poland. Brown had lucked out, scoring one of his favorite seats — aisle, in a roomy exit row — with two empty ones between him and the window. Then a British man, one of the many harried road warriors aboard, arrived to take the window seat. He asked for a Jack Daniel’s, Brown-Forman’s most profitable brand, when the flight attendant rolled the snack cart down the aisle. Here, Brown’s ears perked up.

Jack Daniel's bottleBut the airline was all out. Would the Brit settle for another brand of whiskey, the attendant asked, perhaps a Johnnie Walker? Nope, he replied, and asked for a glass of champagne instead. As Brown pointed out to the audience, here was a man so loyal to Jack Daniel’s, he’d sooner drink airline champagne than just any other whiskey.

That’s how Brown eased the stockholders into a more formal presentation by CEO Paul Varga, who deployed many bar charts and fever graphs showing return on shareholder equity over one year, five years, and 20 years — important stuff, to be sure, but not quite as compelling as Brown’s literally on-the-fly market research.

By this point, Brown had already dispatched Continue reading “Changing of the family guard: At Brown-Forman’s annual meeting, the ordinary was actually extraordinary”