UST Selling HQ

Smokeless tobacco company likely to leave Greenwich

GREENWICH, Conn. -- UST Inc., the parent company of United States Smokeless Tobacco Co., has placed its headquarters building in Greenwich, Conn., up for sale, and a spokesman said the tobacco and wine company's days in the New England town could be ending.

It is true UST is considering relocating its headquarters, spokesperson Mike Bazinet told the Greenwich Time newspaper. We prefer to stay in Connecticut, but all options are on the table. No decision has been made.

An advertisement on a commercial real estate Web [image-nocss] site calls the headquarters a class A office building with 128,109 square feet of rentable building area, according to the newspaper. No asking price was given.

This consideration is part of a companywide cost-saving initiative, Bazinet said. There are several factors to consider.

Bazinet said those include the cost of moving elsewhere, transportation issues and disruption of ongoing operations.

UST calls the cost-cutting measure Project Momentum, with targeted savings of at least $100 million over the next three years, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month.

The initiative will promote its productivity, efficiency and competitiveness, UST said. The company may begin taking charges against earnings for Project Momentum in this quarter, according to the filing.

State Rep. Livvy Floren of Greenwich speculated that the company was moving to an area where its product has more of a market. It's the NASCAR people, and they're all south of the Mason-Dixon line, Floren told the newspaper of UST's customer base.

UST makes smokeless tobacco products such as Copenhagen, Skoal Long Cut, Copenhagen Long Cut, Skoal, Red Seal, Skoal Pouches, Husky, Skoal Bandits, Copenhagen Pouches, Copenhagen Black and Rooster. Its wines are Chateau Ste, Michelle, Columbia Crest, Domaine Ste, and Michelle for the United States market; and Villa Mt, Eden, and Conn Creek for California market.

This year, Wall Street has speculated that UST is a possible takeover target for a cigarette company hoping to move into the smokeless market. In May, Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris, said it wanted to expand beyond cigarettes and get into smokeless tobacco.