SYDNEY — Billabong International Ltd. has granted due diligence to a consortium led by its executive director and president of the Americas operations, Paul Naudé — and the market is divided as to its prospects.
Shortly after the Gold Coast, Queensland-based surfwear manufacturer announced that Naudé, private-equity group Sycamore Partners Management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch had made a 1.10 Australian dollar a share offer, or $1.14 a share offer, or $1.14 a share at current exchange, valuing the company at just less than 527 million Australian dollars, or $546 million — Billabong stated that it had reviewed the proposal in detail and that due diligence is expected to take up to six weeks.
“The board of Billabong reiterates that there is no guarantee that, following a period of due diligence by the consortium, an acceptable, binding proposal will be forthcoming,” said the statement to the Australian Securities Exchange. Unlike other ASX statements regarding the year’s previous Billabong offers, however, no mention was made of the 1.10 Australian dollar proposal undervaluing the company in a change-of-control context, a point that numerous analysts believe could be significant.
The Naudé-Sycamore proposal is the fifth takeover offer received by Billabong in 2012, after TPG Capital’s earlier bids of 3.00, 3.30 and 1.45 Australian dollars (or $3.12, $3.43 and $1.51), with the latter matched in September by Bain Capital. Both TPG Capital and Bain Capital later withdrew their offers after commencing due diligence, citing undisclosed “issues” with the company’s books.
As 2012 ended, Billabong’s stock was trading at 86 Australian cents, or 89 cents — well below the 1.10 offer.
In a Dec. 19 ASX statement covering the Naudé-Sycamore bid, Billabong announced its third profit downgrade in twelve months, prompting both Citibank and UBS to downgrade Billabong’s stock to neutral from buy and J.P. Morgan to cut the stock to underweight from neutral.
“It’s not encouraging at all,” said IG Markets analyst Stan Shamu. “Investors lose confidence quite quickly in this environment. Management knocked back a few takeover bids at higher prices, now they’re scrambling for 1.10. If this takeover doesn’t get through, I think it could get materially worse, just looking at some of the recent comments by brokers following the profit warning. It seems the stock would be trading at a much lower price if it wasn’t for the takeover offer underpinning the price.”
Deutsche Bank has predicted a 45 percent probability that a 1.10 deal will be successful. One Sydney broker, who declined to be named, put the odds at 50-50.
“Given the share price, the market is not proposing a huge probability of it going ahead,” said the broker. “But if Naudé and his syndicate actually come up with a firm bid, I personally think that the board will have to accept it, even though they knocked bids back from two private-equity companies before, and if you said no at 1.40 [$1.45], they’re going to look like absolute clowns. I think they’ve almost been put in a corner here. They haven’t said straight out it’s undervalued, and given that Naudé is heading up the bid, when you talk about due diligence, it’s hard to imagine he’s going to find something he doesn’t know. Having Naudé there is, I think, encouraging, because nobody knows the company like he does. He’s been there long enough. It’s going to take a long time to turn this business around. But I think the guys taking it over will make a lot of money.”
In honor the @CFDA’s announcement of @iamnaomicampbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 #CFDAAwards, which will take place on June 4, here’s a #tbt of the supermodel on @michaelkors’ runway in 1991. #wwdfashion #wwdarchive (📷: George Chinsee)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.