Trading in shares of Billabong International Ltd. was halted Monday on the Australian Stock Exchange at the firm’s request, which initiated the move pending an announcement by the company of a takeover proposal in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
This story first appeared in the December 18, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The surf-and-sportswear lifestyle brand reportedly received a buyout offer from a consortium led by Paul Naude. Naude, a former pro surfer, is a director and president of Billabong’s U.S. business. He temporarily stepped down last month to pull together the offer, said to be valued at 526.8 million Australian dollars, or $556.5 million, and backed by a U.S. private equity firm. The backer is believed to be Sycamore Partners. A spokesman for Sycamore declined comment. All dollar amounts have been converted to U.S. dollars at current exchange.
Can the sixth time be the charm?
Billabong received four bids from U.S. private equity firm TPG, which elected in October to withdraw a July offer at 1.45 Australian dollars, or $1.49, a share. The withdrawal came in the midst of due diligence due to undisclosed “issues” with Billabong’s books. Earlier in the year, Billabong in February had rejected a third takeover attempt by TPG, at 3.30 Australian dollars, or $3.53, a share.
Bain Capital, also a U.S. private equity firm, was interested, too, and in September matched TPG’s $1.49 offer, but then walked away during due diligence prior to TPG’s withdrawal.
At the time shares of Billabong was halted on Monday, the stock was trading at 98 Australian cents, or $1.04.
The nonbinding bid from the consortium, still subject to due diligence, is about 1.10 Australian dollars, or $1.16, a share.
Billabong is not the only Australian surf brand attracting interest from prospective buyers.
Rip Curl in September hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch as its financial adviser after it received expressions of interest from global buyout firms who want to take the brand to Asia.